COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN and The Associated Press) – A strategic plan unveiled Thursday would extend high-speed internet to about 1 million unserved or underserved Ohioans.
One of the highlights of the plan is a strategy to open access to limited access rights of way along state highways and routes in exchange for help from private businesses with expanding access to underserved Ohioans.
Those parcels along rural routes were previously off-limits to private development, such as internet providers.
The plan comes as digital giants, including Microsoft and Facebook, are working to provide connectivity in rural, often poor areas of the U.S.
Statewide grants are being set up, inspired by other states that have created similar programs, that will help with the high cost associated with expanding service in some locations, specifically low-population areas and rural communities.
Based on currently available information, 300,000 households in Ohio, representing approximately 1 million Ohioans, are estimated to lack access to broadband internet.
The project will also help with expanding healthcare services to those in rural communities with the “telehealth pilot,” which delivers healthcare at a distance using technology that allows communication between doctors, patients, families, and care workers.
The plan must be approved by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. If approved, the plan would boost the state’s ability to land federal grants.
Mike DeWine says Ohio’s lack of connectivity is putting the state at a disadvantage.