FCC Chairman Pai visits Marietta, Ohio and touts broadband fund

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Rep Bill Johnson (R-OH), Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, and local dignitaries met to discuss the importance of broadband access for Southeastern Ohio’s rural communities. In Marietta (OH), Chairman Pai outlined the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) at the roundtable. He said the RDOF would be divided into two phases. Phase 1 will cost $16 billion and will target areas with no broadband access. He said part of phase 2 will be data collection. “We’ll collect information from providers as a map may show an area has service, but they don’t in reality,” he explained. He said bids can come in from a variety of sources, including cable, electric co-ops or telephone service providers. “I don’t care where it comes from, as long as people get broadband,” Chairman Pai said, noting whichever provider offers the higher speed will automatically win the bid.

Rep Johnson noted the RDOF’s priority is unserved and underserved communities. He said there were 215,000 eligible points in his own district in Ohio.  Rep Johnson said where generations of technology used to change every 10 years, now it changes every six months. “As people move out, they move to places with broadband connections, and they aren’t moving back,” he said.

FCC chairman Pai visits Marietta, Ohio and touts broadband fund