Governor Establishes Broadband Ohio Network to Help Expand High Speed Internet Access to All Ohioans

Contact: 
Amanda Wurst
614-644-0957/614-832-7512
Amanda.Wurst@governor.ohio.gov

Columbus, Ohio – Friday, July 27, 2007 – In order to coordinate and expand access to the state’s broadband data network, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has signed an executive order establishing the Ohio Broadband Council and the Broadband Ohio Network.

The order directs the Ohio Broadband Council to coordinate efforts to extend access to the Broadband Ohio Network to every county in Ohio. And the order allows public and private entities to tap into the Broadband Ohio Network – all with a goal of expanding access to high-speed internet service in parts of the state that presently don’t have such service.

“Ohio’s economic future relies on our ability to compete in a high-speed, high-tech global marketplace,” Strickland said. “The Ohio Broadband Council will partner with the public and private sectors to help make sure that every Ohioan has viable access to affordable, high-speed internet service, regardless of where they live, work or learn.”

The order directs state agencies to use the Broadband Ohio Network rather than the patchwork of public and private networks agencies presently use, allowing the state to realize cost savings and efficiencies.

“By fully utilizing our state broadband network we will be making efficient, responsible use of our public dollars,” Strickland said.

In addition to developing a plan for statewide broadband deployment, the Ohio Broadband Council is charged with coordinating all state-funded broadband initiatives, pursuing additional federal investments in broadband, promoting public and private broadband initiatives and addressing the digital divide in Ohio’s rural and urban areas.

The Council, to be co-chaired by the state Chief Information Officer and the director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center, will consist of representatives from several state agencies, four state legislators and the director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia or his designee. In addition, the governor will appoint representatives from Ohio’s business and labor communities, local governments and the general public to serve on the Council at his discretion.

The governor has charged the Ohio Broadband Council to extend access to the Broadband Ohio Network so that state agencies in all 88 counties can be linked to the nearest connection point on the network. In addition, the order authorizes governmental and non-governmental entities to access the Broadband Ohio Network.

“This is the first step in bridging the digital divide in Ohio, and I look forward to working with industry providers, businesses and our local communities to take additional steps to provide superior broadband access to all of Ohio’s 88 counties,” Strickland said.

Text of the Executive Order follows:

Executive Order 2007 – 24S

Establishing the Ohio Broadband Council and Broadband Ohio Network

  1. Broadband Services Are Vital to Economic Growth and Opportunity in Ohio. High-speed data transmission networks, known as broadband networks, are a fundamental building block in developing a robust economy in Ohio. Access to broadband is as critical to advanced technology and service industry employers as are roads, rails and electric service to manufacturers. Building on the State’s investment in broadband infrastructure will help create a competitive, well-connected state economy.
  2. Achieving Cost Savings and Efficiencies. The State of Ohio currently maintains a number of distinct, independently-operated leased data networks carrying the data of various state agencies and connecting them with each of Ohio’s 88 county governments. Substantial cost savings can be achieved by consolidating Ohio’s public broadband resources into a single data network, allowing the State to more efficiently procure broadband data services in the future.
  3. Establishing the Ohio Broadband Council. Because the development of a single system for providing broadband data networks by the State will be an efficient use of taxpayer dollars, I am ordering the establishment of the Ohio Broadband Council (the “Broadband Council”). The Broadband Council will unite key state agencies in developing a strategic plan for the deployment of a new, statewide broadband data network.
  4. Role of the Broadband Council. The Broadband Council will identify resources necessary for broadband implementation, coordinate all broadband enhancement activities that receive funds from the State of Ohio, and pursue new federal investments in broadband data network services at state agencies, educational institutions, and local government facilities. Additionally, the Broadband Council will establish policies and may create advisory groups that promote public and private broadband services and investments, and develop a plan to address access issues in Ohio’s rural and urban communities.
  5. Council Composition and Operations. The Ohio Broadband Council will be comprised of the following:
    1. The directors of the following state agencies, or their designees,: Agriculture, Commerce, Development, Education, Health, Job and Family Services, Public Safety, Public Utilities Commission and Board of Regents. The Chief Information Officer and the Director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center will serve as Co-Chairs of the Broadband Council, and the Director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia or his designee shall be a member of the Council. Additional state agencies and offices may serve on the Broadband Council at the invitation of either of the Co-Chairs.
    2. The Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, the President of the Ohio Senate, and the minority leaders of the House and Senate will each be invited to appoint one member to the Broadband Council.
    3. I will also appoint representatives from Ohio’s business and labor communities, local governments and the general public to serve, at my discretion, on the Broadband Council.
    4. The Office of Information Technology and Ohio Supercomputer Center will provide support staff for the Broadband Council.
    5. Members of the Council will not receive compensation for their service to the Council.
  6. Creating the Broadband Ohio Network. The new broadband data network to be established by the Broadband Council will be known as the Broadband Ohio Network.
    1. The Broadband Ohio Network will have two components. The first is the NextGen Network, which will provide broadband data services to all state executive agencies, boards and commissions. The second is the OSCnet, formerly known as the Third Frontier Network and now so named because it is housed at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, which will focus on innovation, research, education and economic competitiveness.
    2. All state executive agencies, boards and commissions are directed to contact the Office of Information Technology to plan the timeframe in which they will transition to the NextGen Network.
    3. Because of the cost savings associated with transitioning to the NextGen Network, non-executive state agencies and organizations are strongly encouraged to use the NextGen Network system.
    4. OSCnet will develop and deploy new technology that focuses on the retention, enhancement, and attraction of high-quality jobs to Ohio.
    5. OSCnet will continue to provide the latest data network technology to facilitate the education and research needs of higher education, as well as K-12, public television, health, agriculture and research (local, state, and federal).
  7. Extending Access to the Broadband Ohio Network. While Ohio has benefited from a strong level of investment in broadband networks by private sector telecommunications companies and through the leadership of our higher education community, broadband service is not universally available and affordable. Many of Ohio’s rural regions remain without access to broadband, while these services and data networks remain financially out of reach to many low-income communities. As we move further into the 21st century, Ohio must provide access to broadband networks in all 88 counties. As such, I am directing the Broadband Council to acquire sufficient high capacity connections to link state agencies in all 88 counties to the nearest point of connection on the Broadband Ohio Network. This approach will improve access in underserved areas, while targeting state resources toward local initiatives that provide computing resources and training where it is most needed.
  8. Authorizing Connections to the Broadband Ohio Network. Because a primary goal of updating the State’s data network services is to ensure that there is viable access to superior broadband services in all parts of Ohio, including access for non-state entities, I am directing the Broadband Council to authorize connections to the Broadband Ohio Network, when it becomes available, to both governmental and non-governmental entities .
  9. I signed this Executive Order on July 26, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio and it will expire on my last day as Governor of Ohio unless rescinded before then.

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    Ted Strickland, Governor

    ATTEST:

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    Jennifer Brunner, Secretary of State