COLUMBUS — Three Ohio broadband projects by Connect Ohio, OneCommunity and Horizon Telecom will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The awards are among the 94 Recovery Act investments in broadband projects announced recently by Vice President Biden that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states.
A total of $118 million will be used for the Ohio projects to build sustainable broadband adoption, public computing capacity and broadband infrastructure across the state.
Governor Ted Strickland established Connect Ohio in 2007 to help extend affordable high-speed Internet service to Ohio households and community institutions. The Connect Ohio initiative was brought in to work with providers, libraries, and community organizations in each county to identify projects that could ensure Ohio’s full participation in today’s digital economy.
Across the state, communities identified the need for more complete broadband access and for additional training and awareness programs. The combination of infrastructure and training grants will help to enable those goals, statewide.
The Ohio projects that received awards are:
($44.8 million): The grant will fund 64 percent of the nearly $70 million fiber optic network construction project titled “Transforming Northeast Ohio: From Rust Belt to Tech Powerhouse,” which will serve 20 counties across Northeast Ohio.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Comprehensive Community Infrastructure program, will add nearly 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable to the OneCommunity network.
($66.5 million): An NTIA grant will fund 70 percent of a $94.9 million fiber optic network construction project which will connect Ohio’s Appalachian counties.
The project, designated the Connecting Appalachian Ohio Middle Mile Consortium, will provide high-capacity broadband services to approximately 600 regional community anchor institutions, including 212 healthcare facilities, 25 community colleges, 15 universities, 231 K-12 schools, 34 county public safety answering points, 32 MARCS towers and 34 industrial parks.
Currently, more than 80 percent of those facilities lack fiber-based broadband access and/or the necessary minimum speeds to match their Internet needs.
($6.9 million): The grant will fund a portion of the organization’s $10 million Ohio Public Adoption Through Libraries/Every Community Online Adoption Project, which offers free computer training sessions at public libraries and community colleges throughout Ohio and is expected to immediately create 136 jobs, train 209,000 consumers over two years, and inspire a total of 75,000 new households to adopt broadband.
Public computing capacity will also be enhanced by the placement of more than 2,000 new public computers that will be distributed to dozens of public library and community college locations across the state along with the necessary curriculum to be used in the training program.