Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks visited Southeast Ohio on Oct. 18 to spotlight the need to expand rural broadband access. The meeting convened business owners, medical providers, school officials, faith-based leaders, and public libraries at the Dr. Samuel L. Bossard Memorial Library in Gallia County, where they discussed how essential high-speed internet is and how hard it is to get that service in some areas. Attendees gave first-hand accounts of how the lack of high-speed internet access holds back economic development and negatively impacts businesses, students, and even patients in rural regions.
During the meeting, Starks praised the efforts of Ohio’s public libraries to provide broadband access through their WiFi signals and the lending of WiFi hot spots. He also compared the rural broadband effort to the drive that extended electricity throughout the United States.
At its August meeting, the FCC unanimously voted to distribute more than $20 billion of Universal Service Fund subsidies over the next decade as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. It also adopted a proposal to get more detailed information from broadband providers about where they offer service in order to improve the agency’s coverage maps.