The effort to improve access to high-speed internet across Ohio received a boost last week.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced the creation of BroadbandOhio, an office committed to increasing high-speed internet access across the state that was a pillar of the Ohio Broadband Strategy effort that was rolled out by the DeWine administration in December 2019.
BroadbandOhio will implement the Ohio Broadband Strategy and be the point of contact for all broadband projects in Ohio, DeWine said Thursday.
“We know there are more than 300,000 households in Ohio without broadband access. BroadbandOhio will implement our strategy for increasing high-speed internet access to underserved and unserved Ohioans across the state,” DeWine said.
The office will be charged with identifying high-priority initiatives and ensure their completion, as well as serve as a liaison among state agencies in order to implement the state’s goals in expanding access and supporting Ohioans who have been left without access to the modern economy, education system and health care system due to their lack of high-speed connectivity.
BroadbandOhio will also serve as a resource for local governments and private industry as they undergo their own expansion efforts.
“You cannot have opportunities in the modern economy or access to the modern education system or health care system without having access to broadband internet. Access to high-speed internet opens doors for people who have been left behind across Ohio,” added Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, a Montpelier native.
In December, InnovateOhio released the Ohio Broadband Strategy, which is a comprehensive plan to expand broadband access across Ohio. Among other things, the plan calls for the creation of a telehealth initiative, defines a pathway to expand access to state-owned rights of way and utilizes the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) to improve the regulatory environment associated with expanding services. BroadbandOhio will help coordinate these initiatives with InnovateOhio, and work with the General Assembly to develop a statewide grant program to address the high costs of expanding service in parts of Ohio.
BroadbandOhio will be housed within the Development Services Agency.
Peter Voderberg has been named the BroadbandOhio office’s chief. Voderberg has worked in state government for many years, including in the Ohio House and Senate, and most recently served as an assistant policy director in DeWine’s office. He previously worked as managing director of policy and regulation for DriveOhio, which worked under the Ohio Department of Transportation to study and promote the future of smart mobility in Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Dayton.