COLUMBUS -- The DeWine-Husted Administration, through InnovateOhio, on Thursday announced the release of a Request for Information (RFI) in an exploratory effort to improve broadband access to people across the state.

“Lack of access to high-speed internet can stand in the way of our ability to do business, to obtain an education, or even to access emergency services,” said Gov. Mike DeWine.

“My administration is serious about improving broadband connectivity to corners of Ohio that have been left behind. We want ideas from businesses, both large and small, community leaders, and anyone with an idea for how we can start making real progress on this issue," DeWine said.

Lt. Gov John Husted, who serves as director of InnovateOhio, said residents can't be a part of the modern economy and education system without access to high-speed internet.

“In some parts of Ohio, the marketplace is not solving the issue on its own, so we are pushing it into action and asking the private sector to work with us to help the people in these areas. By leveraging public assets, we can get people access to the technology infrastructure they need to succeed," Husted said.

The RFI considers the possibility of opening the rights of way along ODOT-maintained state highways and to broadband providers in exchange for private investment that improves access to under-served Ohioans.

These state-owned right of way corridors provide significant value that could potentially be leveraged to the benefit of Ohioans living in areas that still lack access to high-speed internet.

The RFI is an early step in a statewide broadband expansion strategy being developed under the leadership of InnovateOhio.

“The vast network of highway rights-of- way owned and maintained by ODOT is critically important asset which makes possible the safe, efficient movement of people and goods in the Buckeye State,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. 

The RFI will be open to receive responses for 21 days.

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