Dover is getting a new broadband tower as part of a statewide expansion of Internet access

Lieutenant Governor John Hested was in Dover Monday to activate the broadband tower. The tower is expected to provide internet connectivity to more than 2,000 homes.

Map of counties targeted by the Ohio Digital Reach initiative.

Abigail Butter

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Ideastream General Media

Ohio’s Digital Access initiative targets 27 counties, as shown on this map on January 23, 2023.

The tower is part of JobsOhio’s Ohio Digital Access initiative, which aims to increase broadband access in 27 counties, many of them rural.

Ryan Grewell is the general manager of Smart Way Communications, a local internet provider and partner in the initiative. Smart Way began offering internet to rural areas of Tuscarawas County in 2014. Internet options at the time in the county were bleak, Grewell said.

“Our goal was to go to the underserved and underserved areas of southern Tuscarawas County. There was no internet,” Grewell said. “You can get satellite. You can probably get some DSL connections. We saw so much dial-up that it was hard to believe.”

Community members demanded the opportunity to get broadband, but Smart Way didn’t get much of a return on its investment in the community, Grenwell said.

Smart Way's general manager of communications, Ryan Grewal, spoke at the activation of the broadband tower in Dover.

Abigail Butter

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Ideastream General Media

Smart Way communications general manager Ryan Grewal speaks at the broadband tower activation in Dover on January 23, 2023.

“The only thing we were having was critical infrastructure that didn’t exist,” Grewell said. “We didn’t have the towers in place.”

That was the case for much of rural Ohio, Lt. John Hested said.

When Gov. [Mike] DeWine and I took office, and it was very clear that we don’t have a strategy, that we have a million or so people who don’t have access to high-speed internet, but no one really knows where that is,” said Husted.

This is where JobsOhio support comes in. By providing financing and loans for the project, the agency is supporting companies that may have been shying away from offering broadband in rural areas due to fear of not getting an adequate return on their investment, Husted said.

“We have to make the economics of this business work,” Heisted said. “JobsOhio’s work helps the private sector make the economics of providing these Internet services financially viable.”

This initiative, Hested said, will make Ohio more economically competitive.

“We’re doing this in Ohio in a much more aggressive way than a lot of other states are doing,” Husted said, “and that will open up opportunities for people here and give us more of a competitive advantage.”

Husted said people and businesses are being turned away from Ohio because of the lack of available broadband access.

Digital Access Ohio locations map.

Abigail Butter

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Ideastream General Media

The Ohio Digital Access Initiative has sites for increased broadband access planned across eastern Ohio, as shown on this map on January 23, 2023.

“Anyone who needs access to high-speed internet, large parts of Ohio are not on the list for them, because they don’t have that access,” Heisted said. “This opens up opportunities for the entire Appalachian belt that we’re considering in eastern and southeastern Ohio.”

Hosted said this initiative will also fix broadband inequality.

“This creates opportunities for underserved or underserved communities to change their economic futures, because they have the pathways to do such things in their communities,” Hested said.

Now, businesses and households in Dover can access fast internet.

The sign shows the difference in speed before and after the activation of the new broadband tower in Dover.

Abigail Butter

/

Ideastream General Media

The new broadband tower went live on January 23, 2023, dramatically increasing internet speeds in the area.

“According to the recent speed tests of this site, the team told me that this project will increase the wireless broadband speed here from 1.4 Mbps to 524 Mbps,” Husted said.

This is just the first step in an initiative that will take four to five years to complete.

CEO JB Nauseev said JobsOhio’s partnership with Canton-based internet company Agile Networks will be transformative for many rural areas in the state.
“The tower you can see on the horizon as well as the many other buildings that will be enabled through our partnership with Agile will help facilitate high speed access for thousands of Ohioans who currently cannot share access to the modern economy,” Nassif said.

JobsOhio provides access, financing, and loans for the project, while Agile Networks builds and maintains the towers.

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