Published by Columbus Business First on February 21, 2019
by Carrie Ghose
Connect Ohio Initiative LLC, a chapter of Connected Nation, has not been able to update its maps since 2017 when the last round of state funding ran out. The project also includes surveying residents and businesses on broadband use and facilitating local technology planning to determine whether there’s support for infrastructure grants.
The General Assembly created the grant of up to $1 million last year to collect data to inform priorities for broadband infrastructure projects.
The research grant, appropriated in a spending bill with varied projects, was carved out out of a separate bill that would have directed $100 million from Third Frontier to broadband infrastructure over two years. It passed the House but not the Senate.
“Without accurate, granular and timely data as foundation, any policy could be potentially flawed and possibly target future investment or support to areas other than those most in need,” said an email from Stu Johnson, Connect Ohio executive director.
As many as 300,000 households, mainly in rural regions, have no broadband access, according to past studies, and an additional 2.1 million have only one choice of provider.
“Connect Ohio’s deep background in broadband technology assessments and planning, extensive breadth of project deliverables, and complete state coverage provides a compelling proposal for funding,” said a report from consultants who evaluated grant proposals to the Third Frontier Commission.
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