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Additionally, the Biden administration recently struck an agreement with 20 ISPs to offer access to qualified new subscribers for $30 a month. When the ACP rebate is applied to services from one of these participating providers, the result is free internet service for the customer.

The companies involved are Allo Communications, AltaFiber and Hawaiian Telecom, Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Fios (Verizon-owned), Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom , MLGC, Spectrum (Charter Communications), Starry, Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber and Wow! Internet, cable and TV.

Cox Communications is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, which owns the newspapers of Cox First Media.

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Numbers as needed

The InnovationOhio Education Fund released a report that 1.2 million Ohio homes lack high-speed Internet connectivity, including more than 62,400 in Montgomery County. Most of these households are low-income, the group said.

According to Terra Goodnight, director of policy at InnovationOhio, these numbers come from adding the number of households without an internet subscription and those with only a cellular data plan from 2019 US Census estimates.

The 2020 estimates are now available and are slightly lower, but still show a large number of people without internet access:

· 29,342 households in Butler County or 20.8% of the population.

14,673 in Clark County or 26.8%

6,740 in Darke County or 31.8%

12,802 in Greene County or 19.4%

9,269 in Miami County or 22.5%

59,555 in Montgomery County or 26.3%

4,964 in Preble County or 30.5%

13,057 in Warren County or 15.6%

Nearly 40% of American households qualify for the ACP rebate, the report says. More than 600,000 Ohio households have already signed up for the ACP rebate, but 1.4 million households may still be eligible, InnovationOhio says.

The definition of broadband internet service can include wired phone, cable or fiber; a satellite receiver; or a cellular smartphone, the Ireport says.

“High” Internet speed is defined by the Federal Communications Commission as downloading at least 25 megabits per second, but a common public definition is four times that speed, according to the report.

According to InnovationOhio, home broadband service can typically cost $100 or more per month.

About 85% of Ohio homes have broadband service, but nearly 700,000 still don’t have high-speed connectivity, according to the InnovationOhio report.

However, according to state figures, the number of households in Ohio stands at about 300,000 without broadband access.

If you count the households where smartphones are the only source of high-speed Internet, the total without high-speed home service is 1.2 million Ohio households, the report said. More than half of those are in 10 urbanized counties, including Butler and Montgomery, according to the report.

Black and Hispanic or Hispanic Ohioans are almost twice as likely to not have broadband access at home as their white and Asian counterparts, according to the report, which is based on federal statistics. According to the report, only two-thirds of low-income households have broadband access, compared to 95% of the highest-income families.

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expand services

In March, the state announced that $232 million is available through BroadbandOhio grants to bring high-speed Internet to nearly 100,000 homes. This is for companies to make the service available, but not to give customers a discount.

“Although the end user is not subsidized, each of the recipients of the broadband expansion grant participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides eligible individuals a $30 discount on their Internet bill,” said Todd Walker, chief communications officer for the Ohio Department of Development, which includes BroadbandOhio.

The government grant program was created by House Bill 2, which encourages ISPs to extend infrastructure to underserved areas. The grants will fill the “broadband funding gap,” the difference between the actual cost of building internet infrastructure to serve individual homes and the maximum cost the company considers “cost-effective” to build that service.

“The grants were focused on those who had the most underserved, hard-hit areas and those who were economically distressed,” Walker said. “In each of the areas, through the grant program, the state will fund a provider to provide access to the unserved and underserved.”

Providing access to high-speed Internet for all Ohioans is a priority for the DeWine-Husted administration, he said. Some areas could be served faster in under a year, but the average construction time is two years, according to a state press release.

To be eligible for government grants, projects must offer speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload for homes that do not currently have this level of service.

However, the majority of providers that receive grants offer download and upload speeds of 100 Mbit/s, according to Walker.

Initial grant announcements include $2.1 million for Spectrum to provide fiber optic service to 1,165 Clark County homes at speeds of up to 1 gigabit download and 500 megabits upload.

A BroadbandOhio map shows new broadband projects in at least small portions of all area counties except Miami and Montgomery. Despite this, Montgomery and all seven adjacent counties will still have some areas that don’t have high-speed access, although according to the map, many of Butler, Warren and Montgomery already have one.

“These projects will bring affordable, high-speed Internet to more than 43,000 Ohio homes,” according to a state press release. “As part of the grant process, several ISPs have also committed to independently fund 71 additional broadband rollout projects, serving approximately 52,000 homes and impacting areas in 31 additional counties.”

Butler, Darke, Greene, Montgomery, Preble and Warren are all among the counties “affected” by these 71 additional obligations.


Find service and funding in your area

To apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program, go to getinternet.gov or AffordableConnectivity.gov.

To find ISPs near you, go to broadbandnow.com/Ohio or broadbandmap.fcc.gov.

See broadband.ohio.gov for information on where service providers are planning to roll out new high-speed connections.

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