Washington County/MARCS Tower Pilot Project
Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Director of InnovateOhio, was joined by Lydia Mihalik, Director of the Ohio Department of Development, Washington County Commissioners, Fairfield Township Trustees, representatives from the Southeast Ohio Broadband Cooperative (SEOBC) and local residents in Cutler to announce a new pilot project that will expand broadband in the area to hundreds of households using local, state-owned MARCS towers.
The innovative project builds upon the goal of BroadbandOhio by enhancing and expanding high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved Ohioans, particularly those in the Appalachia region of the state, by creatively leveraging state assets.
Multi-Agency Radio Communications System towers, also known as MARCS towers, are part of a statewide, wireless, digital communication network that allows emergency and law enforcement personnel to communicate instantly during emergencies. The Southeast Ohio Broadband Cooperative has been granted access to use these MARCS towers, which will broadcast a signal out to hundreds of previously unserved homes in range. Additionally, because of this project, an additional 130 households will be able to maintain coverage after a local internet service provider was going to stop providing internet service to the area.
The project was made possible through collaboration between BroadbandOhio, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS), and the Ohio Department of Development. MARCS towers, which help emergency responders communicate in a crisis, were purchased with tax-exempt bonds, limiting the ability for private companies to co-locate equipment on the tower. However, DAS was able to convert these into taxable bonds, thereby eliminating this restriction.
This launch represents another broadband expansion project that builds upon the DeWine-Husted Administration’s efforts to expand and enhance broadband connectivity for businesses and families throughout Ohio