MOUNT VERNON — The use of broadband technology in education, health care, and industrial sectors continues to advance as does the need for accessibility in rural areas. Congressman Zack Space announced on Wednesday the Connecting Appalachian Ohio Broadband Plan received a $66.5 million grant from the American Recovery Act and is being matched by $28.5 million from the Connecting Appalachian Ohio and Middle Mile Consortium partners. This plan will connect 34 rural counties, including Knox County, in southeastern Ohio with high-speed fiber-optic broadband technology.
“This is a huge leap forward but we are not done,” said Space in a conference call. “Because technology is constantly advancing, no one is under the illusion that we can sit back now and relax when it comes to putting our region in a position to succeed, but this is the single largest leap that we have seen in relation to this technology in decades.”
Space said the fiber optic lines will be developed in such a way that cable and wireless companies can build out from the various points of placement and provide affordable, quality service for businesses and residents.
The significance of the plan is to fill a gap in areas that do not have access to a broadband network and increase the means of communication for opportunities. Nearly 600 sites throughout the region have been prioritized for direct connection to the fiber network including: 25 community colleges, 15 universities, four career training centers, 34 county 9-1-1 public safety answering points, 32 state of Ohio multi-agency radio communication system towers, 212 health care facilities and county health departments, 231 K-12 school buildings, 34 industrial parks and five state park conference centers.