WILMINGTON — It’s time to sharpen our focus upon a basic direction to expand broadband in Clinton County, the county commissioners president said Monday.
The term “broadband” refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on. Broadband includes several transmission technologies.
There’s a need to hone in on the county’s direction and options, said Clinton County Commissioners President Mike McCarty, because there is “going to be a lot of funding come down the pike through the state [via Columbus] for expanding broadband, so the sooner we start to developing that countywide plan, the better.”
Although the State of Ohio has not asked rural counties to have a broadband expansion plan, McCarty believes it’s going to be “very advantageous” for counties to be ready with one.
“That way, when the money starts becoming available which I think it’s going to be, we will be able to say, ‘Here’s our plan, we’re ready to go’,” McCarty said in a discussion at the county commissioners session.
He mentioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture has broadband funds to distribute, and he also thinks the State of Ohio has made it a priority.
In February, H.B. 2 passed the Ohio House of Representatives. It would provide $210 million in grants to expand high-speed Internet access around Ohio.
McCarty said he thinks COVID-19 has served to highlight the need for high-speed Internet, especially in rural areas, as school children began learning remotely and many adults worked from home.
“The flip side is urban areas are looking at ways to make it more affordable. For rural areas, it’s just having it, period,” the commissioner said.
High-speed Internet is a high priority for farm operators, “given where technology is going with agriculture,” said McCarty.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said there are a lot of challenges in Clinton County when it comes to providing high-speed Internet.
When all three commissioners are present for a discussion, McCarty said he may bring up the idea of starting a local broadband or high-speed Internet commission.
Steed said he would suggest, if the county is going to do a study on the issue, to hire a consultant.
In order for commissioners to get a handle on the type of resources they want to dedicate to improving broadband in Clinton County, they need to have some underlying basics as to what the county needs in that regard, Steed added.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.