More than $3.1 million is going toward expanding high-speed internet access in the counties’ underserved areas.
WASHINGTON — Nearly 2,700 rural dwellers in Mahoning and Trumbull counties are about to get access to high-speed broadband.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction is providing the access. In all, 401,000 rural Ohioans previously unserved will gain access.
In Mahoning, $1,235,261 is being spent to bring the internet to 1,975 residents. In Trumbull, $1,937,550 is being provided for 1,624 residents.
“Whether it’s completing school work, accessing job applications, banking online or any number of other resources we access through the internet, broadband is an essential utility for every 21st-century American,” said state Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, in a news release. “At a time when we have been forced to carry out more and more of our normal daily life remotely, too many Ohioans have been disadvantaged because they couldn’t access the internet.
“The success of this project is a huge step in the right direction to ensure every Ohioan has the opportunity to thrive — during this pandemic and beyond,” Ryan said.
Phase I of the auction began on Oct. 29 and targeted more than six million homes and businesses in census blocks that are entirely unserved by voice and broadband services. The auction allocated $170,038,205.10 to expand broadband to 191,093 unserved homes and businesses across America over the next 10 years.
“This is big news for many areas of rural Ohio that are on the wrong side of the rural-urban digital divide,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th. “Like the Rural Electrification [Act] effort to bring electricity to rural America in the 1930s, the federal government must step in when and where the private market fails in order to ensure that high-speed internet access is available in all the hills and valleys of Appalachia and throughout rural America.”
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 5G wireless broadband connectivity to unserved areas in rural America.
The auction used a multi-round, descending clock auction format in which bidders indicated in each round whether they would commit to providing service to an area at a given performance tier and latency at the current round’s support amount.
There will be a second phase of the auction that covers locations in census blocks that are currently partially served, as well as locations that were not funded in Phase I.