Internet access is essential for success | Opinion

Much of northwest Ohio, including communities around Bowling Green, lacks access to reliable high-speed internet. As a small business owner in Weston, I use a hotspot to do business because like so many people outside of the major metropolitan areas of Ohio, I don’t have hotspot in a large band.

Fortunately, between the Trump administration’s funding legislation and the new infrastructure bill, billions in investments will soon be made to bring high-speed internet to underserved and rural areas.

However, there is a little-known but incredibly important challenge that stands in the way of increased broadband access.

Since most ISPs don’t own the rights to the utility poles they need to access, they have to pay the owners for the right to use them. Companies are ready and willing to pay for pole access, but pole owners often drag their feet during the permitting process.

All of this creates a slow, bureaucratic process that increases consumer costs, wastes taxpayers’ money, and ultimately slows or prevents providers from bringing broadband to the communities that need it most.

It is critical that Congress rise to this unnecessary challenge and ensure that the federal government’s investment in broadband expansion is spent efficiently and allows projects to move forward quickly.

This includes common sense solutions that will cost taxpayers nothing, such as increasing transparency through consistent timelines for permits and access to poles, ensuring that the costs of replacing old poles are distributed fairly, and ensuring Disputes between pole owners and broadband deployers are heard and resolved quickly. . Small businesses need high-speed Internet to compete.

Our Congressman, Representative Bob Latta should – and I believe he will – help make this a reality.

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