Broadband Expansion Program

House Bill 13 – Testimony Provided by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce

On Wednesday, the Ohio Chamber delivered proponent testimony on House Bill 13 in front of the House Finance Committee. As the bill is currently written, HB 13 provides two application periods for private companies to submit proposals to the Department of Commerce that address the broadband needs of a specific location. These areas of need may be identified by a board of county commissioners, on behalf of a township or municipality in their jurisdiction, and then publicized by the Department of Commerce.

The applications will then be reviewed by a dedicated Broadband Expansion Program Authority inside the Department of Commerce using a weighted scoring system to award the state funds requested by the applicant to make a specific project economically viable. This process encourages leaders at all levels of government to work with private sector providers to identify solutions that address the needs of the community while supporting economic growth.

Passage of HB 13 will allow the state to begin to close the access to high-speed internet gap faced by 300,000 Ohio households. For Ohio to continue to compete, innovate and meet the technological opportunities of the 21st century it needs to find ways to deploy broadband services to all areas of the state.  As this COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, our lives are becoming more dependent on technology. Whether for education, business, healthcare, or shopping for goods and services, our need for reliable high-speed internet access is very important in our daily life. With increases in access to high-speed internet connectivity Ohioans will enjoy new economic and educational opportunities. This in turn will foster the development of a workforce ready to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century and keep Ohio a great place to work and raise a family.