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Ohio broadband expansion pilot project launching in Scioto and Jackson Counties

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 1:52 PM EST
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SCIOTO COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) - A pilot project aimed at expanding broadband in Ohio has launched in two southeastern Ohio counties.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the program Friday in Portsmouth.

He says the pilot plan will use existing technology through MARCS towers located in Scioto and Jackson Counties.

The project builds on the goal of BroadbandOhio by “enhancing and expanding high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved Ohioans, particularly those in the Appalachia region of the state, by creatively leveraging state assets.”

The Multi-Agency Radio Communications System towers that are being used for the project are located throughout Ohio and are part of a communication network that allows emergency personnel to communicate during emergencies.

With this expansion plan, the state will give providers an opportunity to apply for a grant to attach to six towers across Scioto and Jackson Counties. Husted says this will ultimately provide low-cost internet to unserved households in those communities.

“I challenged our team to come up with new ideas on how we could use existing state assets to extend high-speed internet services to those who need it—today we are delivering on that challenge,” Lt. Governor Husted said. “This project has the potential to help internet service providers extend broadband to hundreds of thousands of families and businesses who need it.”

The Ohio Development Services Agency says the grant application will not cost providers. The DSA will evaluate the companies based on their service speeds, equipment that they use, range of signal, and cost for the user. Officials say the goal is to find a solution to bring internet to places that currently lack service at an affordable price.

The applications are eligible for any telecommunications provider who is interested in using the MARCS towers to broadcast an internet signal. They do need to at least meet the federal definition of high-speed internet which is 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.

The grant application period opened Friday and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 26. Grants will be awarded no later than March 31, 2021.

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