Broadband internet coming to previously unserved residents in Jackson County
By: Theo Peck-Suzuki | Report for America
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WELLSTON, Ohio (WOUB/Report for America) – Hundreds of Jackson County households could soon have high-speed internet for the first time thanks to Spectrum’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Tuesday afternoon at the Homestead Country Market in Wellston to celebrate the progress the company has already made.
Spectrum Director of Government Affairs Brian Young said the goal is to fill in broadband access gaps in rural areas.
“The services that we’re offering here are exactly the same as the services we’re offering in Columbus, in Lancaster, in Portsmouth,” he said.
Spectrum estimates the current project will give over 4,000 Jackson County residents new broadband internet with starting speeds of 300 Mbps. Many of them previously had no high-speed access whatsoever.
Young said the economic benefits to the region could be substantial.
“It’ll allow folks who want to not necessarily live in the big cities to move to southeastern Ohio, move to Jackson County, and work from their home,” he explained. “They may want to run a small business or be involved in a lot of other activities that having access to the internet will allow them to have.”
Spectrum won a $1.2 billion grant from the Federal Communications Commission to expand high-speed internet access in unserved places throughout the country.
Young said $106 million of that grant is going to projects in Ohio. That money covers 20 percent of the cost. Spectrum is investing nearly $545 million to complete the job.
93rd District State Rep. Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) was also present at the ceremony. He celebrated what he said was a much-needed investment in the state’s Appalachian region.
“It’s important,” he said, “for people throughout the state and throughout the country to understand that there are areas in our part of the world that, not only do we not have broadband, we have folks who don’t have running water.”
Theo Peck-Suzuki is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. He covers Children and Poverty for WOUB Public Media.