Internet access should receive bipartisan focus
Expanding high-speed internet access to rural areas is critical in our region. Too many Ohioans, including some in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, lack what has become a virtual necessity.
One obstacle to that is knowing precisely what areas already have broadband service. The system relied on by the Federal Communications Commission uses census tracts.
But, especially in rural areas, part of a census tract may have broadband service while many others in it do not. Still, the current system makes it appear as if they do.
A bill introduced in January by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta could remedy that. He represents Ohio’s widespread 6th District which includes Columbiana County and part of Mahoning County.
His proposal — HR 4810 — would provide for more accurate mapping of broadband service areas.
That, in turn, could lead to more federal funding attention to underserved areas.
Johnson’s bill remains under consideration in a House subcommittee. It should be fast-tracked and enacted.
Getting accurate data about internet service areas is a bipartisan concern. The sooner government officials know where people lack broadband service, the sooner they can help the private sector do something about it.