The Ohio Senate attached an amendment to the state's budget bill last week which would place significant restrictions on the establishment of new community broadband solutions. It would also, if passed in its current form, place substantial barriers on the operation and expansion of existing municipal networks and other publicly owned and operated projects.
Cities across Ohio have expanded Internet infrastructure in thoughtful, forward-looking ways. These municipal networks have created local government savings, increased speeds, promoted service competition, and powered economic development.
Some cities have specifically addressed the affordability gap in cities, where many residents have been left behind in a broken market where large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have underbuilt networks, leaving hundreds of thousands of broadband-hungry Ohioans in the digital dust.
This fact sheet [pdf] outlines the many long-term benefits that municipal broadband projects have brought to the state. For instance:
- Since inception, the Medina County Fiber Network has grown to connect every major city in the county. It saves the county government thousands of dollars a year and the local school district at least $80,000 each year. It also will bring fiber service, via a new public-private partnership, to tens of thousands of homes in Medina County at lower costs while encouraging competition. One local business owner called the publicly owned open-access network a “fire hose” that far outperforms the “garden hose” of previous private providers.
- Fairlawn’s (pop. 7,500) city-run FairlawnGig network has consistently ranked as one of the fastest ISPs in the country, serving residents and businesses in Fairlawn, Akron, and Bath with affordable gigabit Internet services. The slowest service tier delivers 300 Mbps symmetrical speeds for $55/month. The municipal network has resulted in more businesses choosing to locate in Fairlawn, and at least 700 jobs can be directly attributed to the network. In recent subscriber surveys, 95% of respondents rated FairlawnGig’s service as “very good to excellent,” with some customer testimonials referring to the network as “a life saver” throughout the pandemic.
- Dublin’s (pop. 42,000) DubLINK has brought new jobs and research opportunities to Dublin’s local economy while saving local institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The fiber network, which connects Dublin’s business district, schools, community anchor institutions, and city buildings, has saved the city approximately $400,000 per year in connectivity and information technology expenses. As of 2014, approximately a decade after the network was complete, the city has realized a $35 million return on investment from DubLINK, after spending approximately $5.5 million over the years to build the network.
Download Ohio's Community Broadband Solutions [pdf] here.
Header image from the city of Fairlawn website.
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