UPDATE: Smaller Internet providers want say in access improvement

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE: 01/23/2020

One local internet provider was not pleased about not being invited to attend a round-table discussion held at Washington State Comm. College that talked about rural broadband access.

There are many customers that struggle with access in the Washington County area, and those customers are not flocking to the smaller companies for various reasons.

Serenity Wireless has internet hook-ups in many areas of Washington County, and can provide favorable internet access. They want their voices to be heard, and they have solutions on how to make sure everyone gets fast, and reliable access.

"I think the solution is the little guys that run the small businesses," said Michael Johnson, owner of Serenity Wireless. "They're going to give more of that personal service, and will go the extra mile because it is their neighbor, it is the person they went to high school with, it is the person they go to church with. And they're going to work harder and make sure it works for the community."

As for the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Johnson hopes that the money is spread to all parties involved in the area, including being able to fund the smaller internet providers who struggle to give access because of grants they are unable to receive.


ORIGINAL STORY: 01/22/2020

With Rural Broadband being an issue in parts of Southeast Ohio and Washington County, a round-table discussion was held at Washington State Community College on Wednesday, on how they can improve access.

U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai were the leaders of the discussion, and local officials participated in the discussion to give their points of view on how to improve Broadband access.

The FCC has proposed a $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), that would help bridge the urban-rural digital divide.

"This rural digital divide is a problem that must be fixed," said Congressman Johnson. "There's got to be a sense of urgency. And he (Pai) has a sense of urgency, we have a sense of urgency. I can't tell you that everybody in Washington shares that sense of urgency, that's why we're, that's why we're having to work it so hard."

The discussion was overwhelmingly positive, and afterward Pai and Johnson met with rural tower workers to advance discussions further.