Broadband services roll out to more than 415 unserved Clark County homes

More than 415 Clark County homes and businesses have been connected to broadband services through a $3 million CARES Act-funded expansion project, and additional federal and grant funding will go toward bringing internet access to more than 1,000 addresses in the county.

The broadband expansion project created 61 miles worth of service to houses in previously unserved parts of New Carlisle, South Charleston and South Vienna.

Spectrum hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at a South Vienna farm on Monday to celebrate the project’s completion.

Farm owners Brett and Marsha Davis said they once relied on hotspots and cell phone data to carry out any digital work at their Mahar Road farm. Their home was the end of the first section included in the Clark County Broadband Expansion Project.

Marsha, an elementary school teacher at Warder Park-Wayne Elementary School, said she was signing into virtual planning meetings with other teachers after the school day was over with little to no data left to help her prepare, as her data plan rolled over on Fridays.

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Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

She and her husband would have to walk around their house to find service to complete simple tasks. Also frustrating was the strain lack of internet access had on her husband, Marsha said.

Brett often has to submit samples to labs to check on the health of his crops and make decisions about what they need to thrive: if insecticide is needed, if they need more potassium, and more. Without reliable internet access, real-time data wasn’t an option.

“You can’t make good decisions without good data,” Marsha said.

The $3 million of CARES Act funding was approved for the project by the Clark County commission in December 2020.

Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt said Monday that technology is the “great equalizer.” The homes and small businesses serviced through the broadband expansion include farmers, students, business owners and other workers who wish to live in the countryside and work from home.

“We want them to have the same opportunities as those who dwell in cities,” she said.

Flax Wilt said the county’s goal is to be 100% connected. Another phase of broadband expansion through Charter Communications that will bring service to 1,165 unserved addresses will be funded through $3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding ― approved by the commission last October ― and funding through the Ohio Residential Broadband Grant program.

State Senator Bob Hackett (R-London) on Monday said the pandemic sped up the emphasis on remote working options nationally.

The countywide expansion, too, will open opportunities for those entering the workforce ten or more years from now, said State Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield).

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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“We’re changing the future for our children,” he said.

Bringing broadband services to people in Clark County is also crucial for the pivot to virtual or hybrid workspaces, Koehler said.

Marsha said that the broadband expansion has made all the difference for her family.

“Going from hotspotting to broadband is like going from being an infant to being 25,” she said. “It’s a huge jump. We needed this for farm management, but I also love to be able to FaceTime my grandkids now.”

Spectrum Internet Gig, with download speeds of 1 Gigabit per second, is now available throughout the area served by the broadband expansion. Other service speeds also exist for businesses and residents of the buildout area, according to a Spectrum press release.

“Spectrum is making a multi-year investment to extend gigabit broadband networks to unserved communities across America,” said Jeff Gehrig, regional vice president.

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