Spectrum announced Wednesday that 140,000 previously unserved Ohio households and businesses across 60 counties will soon have access to high speed internet as a result of a public-private $750 million investment in broadband expansion over the next several years.
“It’s a big deal for a lot of our rural communities, because you cannot participate in the modern economy… without access to high speed internet. It is an economic issue, (but) it’s also a quality of life issue,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted, who said expanding broadband in Ohio has long been a priority for himself and Gov. Mike DeWine.
In a speech at the announcement Wednesday, Husted noted that, through the investment, more Ohioans will have access to critical institutions that have increasingly turned to the internet for convenience and accessibility, including healthcare, education, work-from-home jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Locally, Spectrum’s investment is expected to increase broadband access in areas of Montgomery, Butler, Clark, Warren, Greene, Miami, Darke, Preble and Champaign counties, but it’s not clear how many households in those counties will gain broadband access or when.
The $750 million investment is offset by nearly $200 million in grants accumulated from local, state and federal levels. Spectrum was recently awarded over $55 million through the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which will partially fund a slew of projects that will eventually reach a projected 140,000 households and businesses in Ohio.
Husted said it’s essential to have effective incentives like ORBEG in place in order to leverage private companies like Spectrum to provide priority services to under-served areas.
“The private sector provides access, but if the economics don’t work, they can’t do it. They have a responsibility to their investors, they have a responsibility to make sure that they can get a return on that investment, so there are a lot of places that they just won’t build it without those partnerships,” Husted said.
Husted told reporters after the announcement that the DeWine-Husted administration aspires to have broadband available to every Ohioan that wants it and believes that the state can soon reach 90% broadband coverage.
Adam Falk, Spectrum’s senior vice president of state government affairs, said the company will continue to work with the administration “on our shared goal to invest in rural and unserved areas of Ohio, ensuring all have access to high-speed and reliable broadband.”
Also on Wednesday, Spectrum announced that it will spend nearly $500 million to improve its existing network in Ohio to provide internet speeds ranging from 25, 50 and 100 gigabits per second — the latter of which being equal to 100,000 megabits per second.
The company said the work, which has already begun in Southwest Ohio, will be “substantially complete” across Ohio by the end of 2025. The $500 million dedicated to the project is funded entirely by Spectrum.