Spectrum to expand its broadband in Ohio through public private partnership
Some of the nearly 200,000 Ohioans who are unserved by broadband are closer to getting it, through a partnership between the state and one of the biggest internet providers in Ohio.
Spectrum parent Charter Communications has pledged to invest $1.25 billion in its network of broadband infrastructure through an ongoing public-private partnership with the state of Ohio. That investment will be combined with $200 million in federal, state and local grants to fund projects to both increase internet speeds for existing customers and provide services to underserved or unserved customers, according to the investment details released Wednesday by Spectrum.
About 140,000 houses and businesses will be reached through the project that targets unserved customers in 60 counties. To do so, Spectrum is building out its network of fiber-optic cables—the aerial and underground lines that are used for internet services, among other purposes.
Government and business officials, including Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, attended the morning announcement at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Husted said the state continues to make headway toward getting most Ohioans connected to broadband.
“I think getting to the 90% mark is within the near future,” he said. “It's hard to get some of those situations, where an individual may live miles and miles from anywhere else. Covering some of those final participants will be more difficult.”
Accessible broadband is an economic and quality of life issue, Husted said Wednesday. Although the public-private model to get internet to Ohioans who did not already have it has been successful, Husted said it has not always been perfect. The state has struggled to get a picture of what parts of Ohio are underserved or unserved—because providers were hesitant to share that data and give other providers an edge over them.
“We've said if you want access to public money, you've got to tell us where you're serving, where you're not serving,” he said. “That has really helped us identify underserved areas, and then create a competitive process for people to bid on the public dollars that we have available.”
Spectrum has about 2.8 million customers in the state, by its own count.