PDT Staff Writer
Sixth District Congressman Bill Johnson was in southern Ohio Friday to take part in a variety of activities which included a tour of USEC and a ribbon cutting on a Frontier Communications expansion in Franklin Furnace.
Johnson was joined by Frontier Communications officials at Green High School in Franklin Furnace on Friday morning to ceremonially cut the ribbon on Frontier’s expansion in that area. The expansion brought broadband service to 750 additional households in the Franklin Furnace area.
“This is just one of the many areas that Frontier is expanding their broadband service to in Appalachia Ohio. Here they are reaching out to another 750 households. In the sixth district around 4,000 households now have access to the Internet. Access to the Internet is so important,” Johnson said.
Dave George, Frontier Communications Southern Ohio General Manager, said there is an expansion project slated for later this year in the Lucasville and Otway areas.
“In this area we’ve opened broadband up to almost 1,000 households that have never had the availability for Internet service,” George said. “We have additional expansion plans in Lucasville later this year. We are going to use some of the Connect America Fund to construct two new broadband sites in the Lucasville and Otway areas. Our best estimates right now is that this expansion will add 300 additional households.”
It is estimated by the Federal Communication Commission that over 14 percent of Ohio’s rural population lacks access to high-speed Internet that meets the FCC’s threshold for adequate service — including 11 percent of Scioto County, 39 percent of Adams, 30 percent of Jackson, 13 percent of Pike, and 22 percent of Lawrence. To help address this problem the FCC has re-purposed its Universal Service Fund. The fund had originally been used to help connect Americans to phone service. The FCC has changed the name of the fund to the Connect America Fund to connect rural America to broadband.
Later in the day Johnson also toured the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon.
“We’ve been fighting hard in Washington to make sure that USEC gets the partnership with the Department Of Energy and the R&D (Research and Development) money that the Department of Energy has provided flows and that they are able to accomplish what they are trying to accomplish,” Johnson said.
When asked if there was any news on USEC’s $2 billion pending loan guarantee application with the Department Of Energy Johnson said, “I have heard nothing that’s going to sidetrack that. We had the language in the Energy and Water Bill, we also had the language in the National Defense Authorization Legislation. I’m confident that it’s going to move forward. The Department of Energy is firmly behind it, the administration is behind it, so I think we’re in good shape.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.