As the current General Assembly winds down and we look ahead to 2023, OCTA – Ohio’s Broadband and Cable Association remains focused on advancing public policies that spur the expansion and adoption of quality broadband service throughout Ohio. We are making great strides toward getting every Ohioan connected, but more can be done to remove barriers that slow, or completely prevent, expansion and adoption across the state.
Through the creation of Ohio’s Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, and the significant investment made in the current state budget to fund the program, 33 projects are underway that will connect roughly 43,000 households in 31 counties. Less than one year into the program, Ohioans are already seeing its positive impact. As our members work every day to help close the broadband gap, continuing to fund the residential broadband grant program is a top priority for OCTA.
To complete expansion projects as quickly as possible, providers must have access to utility poles capable of holding the fiber-optic cable and other equipment necessary to deliver quality broadband service to customers. Unfortunately, many poles in rural, unserved areas are too frail, too short, or both, and must be replaced before providers can attach anything to the pole. The more pole-related delays providers encounter, the longer it takes to deliver broadband to unserved Ohioans. To overcome this challenge, OCTA supports the creation of a pole replacement fund to help pole owners and broadband providers replace old, defective poles so broadband expansion projects can advance more quickly.
Another common barrier to broadband adoption is the cost of running a service line to the home. In most cases, providers assume a standard installation fee. However, for homes several hundred feet from the nearest broadband infrastructure, additional fiber, cable, poles, conduit and/or equipment are often required to deliver service to the customer. For these non-standard installations, customers may be required to pay additional construction fees. In some cases, customers do not have the financial means to pay and, therefore, remain unconnected. OCTA supports the creation of broadband line extension assistance fund to help eligible Ohioans pay their portion of the cost necessary to get a service line to their homes.
Thanks to the DeWine-Husted Administration and strong legislative leadership, we’ve made great progress to help Ohioans get connected to reliable, high-speed broadband service. OCTA looks forward to working with the Administration and the Ohio General Assembly to advance these policy priorities and continue Ohio’s momentum into 2023 and beyond.