Broadband Expansion Program Authority voted to accept 114 application
challenges during its Friday meeting, leading to 79 applications suspended
temporarily pending review and affecting around 212,000 addresses. According to
the Department of Development, there were 217 total applications as part of the
grant program aimed at expanding broadband service in unserved and underserved
Deputy Chief of Grants and Special Projects Amy Elbaor told the authority 463
challenges were received, with 349 of them rejected. Elbaor said further that
the challenges fell into three categories of agreed-to, rejected and
Director Peter Voderberg explained that challenged applicants were given the
opportunity to amend their application and remove any challenged addresses.
Those who did were classified as the “agreed-to” challenges, rendering them
moot and leading to the challenge being rejected as well.
authority also rejected challenges due to lack of sufficient evidence, with all
members present voting in favor of the motion. Former legislator Bill Coley
asked whether everyone was aware of the guidelines involved. Voderberg said
that information was disseminated through an FAQ section, webinar and by
answering questions submitted to Broadband Ohio.
challenges that were accepted result in suspension of the application “in whole
or in part,” Voderberg said before the authority’s vote. The staff
recommendations were based on sufficient evidence received from challengers,
but this did not represent a final determination on those applications.
will have until Tuesday, March 8 to either provide information validating the addresses
are unserved or underserved, or to withdraw them. The authority will consider
that evidence in its March meeting on a to-be-announced date and make final
rulings. Lack of response will lead to withdrawal of the application, Voderberg
added, and this is being made clear to the applicants.
will also be reviewing whether any addresses are duplicated across competing
applications. In that event, Voderberg said, the address would be awarded to
the higher-scoring application.
coalition, Broadband Access Ohio, also officially launched Wednesday with the
goal of helping expand high-speed Internet in unserved and underserved areas of
the state. Its members include municipalities, townships, associations,
educational institutions and other public entities.
Access Ohio believes leaders and citizens should support all methods of
broadband expansions from private providers to community networks because
internet access in Ohio isn’t a one-size fits all technology,” Chairman and
Fairlawn Mayor Bill Roth said in a release. “Our communities deserve the
flexibility to choose between a variety of options to provide broadband service
to those who work and live in our communities.”
high-speed, affordable internet access is essential for Ohio's growing economy,
both globally and locally. We need not only county-wide, but statewide
broadband access in order to remain competitive in the global economy,” added
Medina County Commissioner Steve Hambley.
the 24 founding members are the County Commissioners Association of Ohio;
Medina County Board of Commissioners; Summit County; the cities of Athens,
Columbus, Dublin, Gahanna, Hilliard, Hudson, Wadsworth and Worthington; and the
Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.