Closing the digital divide


Highland Co. to receive $2.7 million in support for internet

By Tim Colliver - tcolliver@aimmediamidwest.com



Rural Ohioans can expect to see more cellular network towers, such as this one behind Union Stockyards east of Hillsboro, constructed in the coming years due to efforts by the FCC to expand and improve high-speed internet capability to over five million under-served homes and businesses across the nation.

Rural Ohioans can expect to see more cellular network towers, such as this one behind Union Stockyards east of Hillsboro, constructed in the coming years due to efforts by the FCC to expand and improve high-speed internet capability to over five million under-served homes and businesses across the nation.


Tim Colliver | The Times-Gazette

With thousands in his congressional district unable to access the internet, U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (OH-2) said constituents in the seven-county region will reap the benefits of a reverse auction held Monday by the Federal Communications Commission.

According to Wenstrup, his district — which includes Adams, Brown, Clermont, Highland, and Pike counties as well as parts of Hamilton, Ross, and Scioto counties — will see an expenditure of over $10.5 million for broadband expansion and improvement.

Funding for the counties in the district totaled $10,575,197, of which Highland County is set to see nearly $2.7 million in expenditures for internet improvement.

The FCC announced Monday that millions of rural Americans in 49 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will gain access to high-speed internet service through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural American and focus limited universal service funds on unserved rural areas that need the most support.

Auction results showed that bidders won funding to deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses, which amounted to almost 99 percent of the locations available in the auction.

Ohio alone stands to see spending of a little over $170 million from 11 winning bidders for the 191,093 assigned locations in the state.

The following is the funding breakdown for the counties in the Ohio 2nd Congressional district:

• Adams — $2,167,639

• Brown — $2,811,903

• Clermont — $372,718

• Highland — $2,691,684

• Pike — $1,162,719

• Ross — $487,292

• Scioto — $881,242

The results indicated the big winners comprised 180 bidders that won auction support, to be distributed over the next decade, according to the FCC.

The bidders included what the agency described as “cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers.”

According to the FCC, there were 5,220,833 locations assigned support in the auction with an initial reserve price of over $26 billion over the next 10 years.

Due to vigorous competition among the bidders, the final price tag dropped to $9.2 billion, with the vast majority of locations receiving gigabit broadband capacity.

In October, the FCC adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring higher capacity internet connectivity to unserved areas in rural America, such as the 38 Ohio Appalachian counties, including Highland County.

Winning bidders must meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year, the agency said, which in turn gives providers the incentive to build out to all locations as quickly as possible.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571

Rural Ohioans can expect to see more cellular network towers, such as this one behind Union Stockyards east of Hillsboro, constructed in the coming years due to efforts by the FCC to expand and improve high-speed internet capability to over five million under-served homes and businesses across the nation.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2020/12/web1_Cell-Tower-behind-Union-SY.jpgRural Ohioans can expect to see more cellular network towers, such as this one behind Union Stockyards east of Hillsboro, constructed in the coming years due to efforts by the FCC to expand and improve high-speed internet capability to over five million under-served homes and businesses across the nation. Tim Colliver | The Times-Gazette
Highland Co. to receive $2.7 million in support for internet

By Tim Colliver

tcolliver@aimmediamidwest.com