Broadband expansion arrives in rural Washington County

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ohio (WTAP) – Something that is part of life for many of us has been primarily a dream for those who live in rural areas.

But now part of Washington County will benefit from the long-awaited Internet and broadband service.

When Fairfield Township finance officer Marty Clark went to apply online for American Recovery Act funding, he had to leave home to do so.

“I couldn’t apply from my home,” Clark recalled Wednesday. “I had to go to Marietta, my workplace, to do this.”

And he is not alone. 22% of Washington County’s residents, just over 13,000, now more than two decades into the 21st century, do not have Internet or broadband access.

“Over the past 10 years there have been many attempts to cover our county, but they have failed,” said Washington County Commissioner James Booth. “We have now seen how neighbors helping neighbors have been the right approach for our region. “

The Southeast Ohio Broadband Co-operative, with assistance from the State of Ohio, has successfully extended Internet access to 300 homes in the Cutler and Waterford areas. 130 other residences will be able to keep the service they thought they would lose due to the decision of an Internet service provider to discontinue service in the region.

And, for now, people will be able to access broadband at the Cutler Community Center.

“Allowing people to come here for the community center is exactly what the co-op wants to do,” says Peggy Bailey, project coordinator for SEOBC

A tower just outside the community center, used primarily for emergency communications, is key.

Thanks to the restructuring of the obligations, it will not only allow a public broadband service, but also a continuous commercial presence on the tower.

“We are using some of our existing infrastructure,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who announced the expansion during a visit to Cutler on Wednesday, “making it available, with public-private partnerships to expand the internet, and we’re going to do it all in Southeast Ohio.

Husted said broadband expansion is also planned for Jackson and Scioto counties in Ohio.

Copyright 2021 WTAP. All rights reserved.

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