image001COLUMBUS—State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) today announced that the Ohio House of Representatives passed Sub. House Bill 490, the agriculture & environment Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) bill, which contains provisions to update telecommunications regulations in Ohio. The legislation modernizes Ohio’s process for allowing telephone providers to transition Ohio’s phone network from voice only, to one that is powered by the internet. Ohio’s telecommunications transition will not begin until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorizes the Internet Protocol (IP) transition to begin.

The amendment seeks to make Ohio more attractive to new and current businesses by investing in widespread broadband availability. In collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the bill improves wireline and wireless connections in order to modernize the state’s network infrastructure. Fail-safe, or “safety-net” provisions were also put in place to ensure that Ohioans, specifically in rural districts, are identified and protected from losing service. PUCO will work in a collaborative process with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), consumer representatives, and General Assembly members to identify and map those who have limited options for their basic local exchange service.

“I am very pleased that Ohio could soon have the best broadband IP transition plan in the country, that includes the necessary safeguards to protect Ohioans, especially rural residents,” Rep. Smith said. “This legislation will position Ohio as a leader in the build-out of an advanced communication network and will see a positive response from the business community.”

“Our primary goal for the state is breaking down barriers for businesses in Ohio and giving new businesses the infrastructure they need in order to make Ohio their home and find success here,” Speaker William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) said. “This component of the MBR will have a tremendous impact on Ohio’s business community, allowing them the chance to have greater access to broadband technology.”

Sub. House Bill 490 passed with a bipartisan vote of 73-20, and will now go to the Senate for further consideration.