JobsOhio Investment Seeks to Help Close Digital Divide in Ohio
Published: Fri Jul 29 2022
COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 2022) – JobsOhio announced its commitment to Digital Access Ohio, LLC, a new innovative middle mile infrastructure company formed by Canton-based Agile Networks. Digital Access Ohio will enable fixed wireless broadband technology to expand high-speed internet service in traditionally underserved areas of Ohio.
“In 2019, the state launched its first-ever Broadband Strategy, which, in part, challenged Ohio’s economic development stakeholders to find creative ways to help facilitate broadband expansion throughout the state. We believe the creation of Digital Access Ohio helps fulfill a major element of this strategy and will be instrumental in lowering the cost of investment for last-mile wireless providers,” said JobsOhio President & CEO J.P. Nauseef.
“We applaud the Ohio General Assembly and our other state and private sector partners who have taken steps toward closing the digital divide in recent years and are proud to bring our resources to bear in support of this effort.”
Digital Access Ohio is committing to build, own, market, and operate new telecommunication colocation tower sites, design and construct backhaul connectivity to those sites, and install additional access points on existing towers in the state. Digital Access Ohio will offer open access to the new infrastructure through partnerships with last-mile providers, including wireless internet service providers, to expand their service in hard-to-reach areas of the state. The Digital Access Ohio network will primarily be located in Appalachian Ohio, where many residents currently have subpar or no access to internet service.
JobsOhio will invest up to $40 million on a milestone basis to fund equipment and new towers, alongside a financial investment of up to $10 million by Agile Networks, who will also provide a range of operational services at no cost to Digital Access Ohio. The strategic investment in middle-mile infrastructure will support additional access points to enable connectivity and improve economic inclusion.
The expansion of broadband infrastructure is a vital issue impacting Ohio’s economic competitiveness and is a critical resource for individuals seeking to participate in the modern economy. The work of Digital Access Ohio and its last-mile partners will help to bring access to opportunities such as online learning, telehealth, remote work, and many others.
“Digital Access Ohio’s efforts will help to increase the availability of fast, reliable internet service leading to greater employment opportunities for Ohioans and access to a more robust remote workforce across the state. This initiative will yield high dividends for our state’s economy, especially in southeast Ohio, and other under-served regions of our state,” Nauseef said.
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