House OKs bill to direct $210M for Ohio broadband expansion

Ohio

FILE – This June 19, 2017 file photo shows a person working on a laptop in North Andover, Mass. The U.S. internet won’t get overloaded by spikes in traffic from the millions of Americans now working from home to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus, experts say. But connections could stumble for many if too many family members try to videoconference at the same time. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Legislation to help expand high-speed internet access in underserved and rural areas of Ohio is getting bipartisan support and fast-tracked consideration at the Statehouse as the coronavirus pandemic increases pressure to address that digital divide.

A measure to direct $210 million toward increasing broadband access passed the House on Thursday with wide support. It includes $20 million annually for three fiscal years, plus $150 million from the governor’s state budget proposal.

It would create a grant program to overcome the cost hurdles that dissuade broadband providers from connecting hard-to-reach homes.

An estimated 300,000 households and 1 million residents across Ohio lack high-speed internet.

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