Rep. Edwards supports broadband bill, passes House

Rep. Edwards supports broadband bill, passes House

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State lawmakers are moving forward with major legislation to improve broadband in underserved areas of Ohio.

The Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday approved House Bill 2, which will facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet and broadband services.

Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville)

State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), a longtime supporter of such efforts, said reliable internet connectivity is vital to improving economic and educational opportunities in Southeast Ohio.

“For job creators, educators, parents, students and frankly all Ohioans, access to the internet means access to information and opportunity,” Edwards said. “It’s a top issue for Southeast Ohio and this legislation will help move us forward.”

The $210 million measure, which received strong bipartisan support, will create Ohio’s first ever Residential Broadband Expansion Program through providing grants to offset construction cost hurdles and help facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet and all broadband services to unserved households across Ohio.

The legislation helps target the issue of last-mile connectivity to households where it remains cost-prohibitive for private providers to extend service. The legislation also includes reforms to drive increased private investment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas.

Edwards said the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for improved connectivity.

“We were elected to solve problems and improve opportunity and that’s what this legislation is all about,” Edwards said. “This will make a difference in Southeast Ohio and across the state.”

House Bill 2 now goes to the Senate for consideration.