Home Internet Broadband expansion begins in rural Portage County

Broadband expansion begins in rural Portage County

When Charlene Walker took office as a Freedom Township trustee, one of the first things residents complained about was spotty internet service.

Now a communications company is taking steps to remedy that situation.

Charter Communications unveiled its Rural Broadband program during an event at Freedom Town Hall. The program will increase access to high speed internet in rural areas of Portage County.

Charter is the parent company for Spectrum, whose name appears on the trucks residents will begin to see in the area.

“A lot of people are going to see our trucks and wonder where we’re going next,” said James Higham, an engineer for the company who added they can get updates on Spectrum’s website.

“We’re very excited to bring this service to rural Ohio,” he said.

Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Tony Badalamenti, Gail Pavliga and Charlene Walker learn about the fiber cables from John Rzymek, a field technician for Spectrum Charter Communications.

Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Tony Badalamenti, Gail Pavliga and Charlene Walker learn about the fiber cables from John Rzymek, a field technician for Spectrum Charter Communications.

Rural broadband

Brian Young, director of government affairs for Charter, said the project is being funded by the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Charter was one of the largest awardees of the grant funding.

The company’s website said the effort will provide internet service to more than 1 million unserved locations nationwide.

“We have a lot of skin in the game,” Young said during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

Brian Young, director government affairs for Spectrum Charter Communications, discusses the expansion of broadband internet service in Portage County during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.Brian Young, director government affairs for Spectrum Charter Communications, discusses the expansion of broadband internet service in Portage County during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

Brian Young, director government affairs for Spectrum Charter Communications, discusses the expansion of broadband internet service in Portage County during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

Quality of life issue

State Rep Gail Pavliga said high speed internet is important for Portage County to reach its goals for economic development, as well as quality of life for residents.

“It is vitally important that we have connectivity,” she said.

Officials with Portage County and Spectrum Charter Communications celebrate the expansion of broadband internet service during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.Officials with Portage County and Spectrum Charter Communications celebrate the expansion of broadband internet service during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

Officials with Portage County and Spectrum Charter Communications celebrate the expansion of broadband internet service during an event Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

Pavliga reminded the group that during the COVID-19 pandemic, schoolchildren had to drive to parking lots in order to get their schoolwork done.

“Big companies want to locate here,” she said. “They have to have connectivity.”

James Higham, director of field engineering for Spectrum Charter Communications, discusses the expansion of broadband internet in Portage County on Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.James Higham, director of field engineering for Spectrum Charter Communications, discusses the expansion of broadband internet in Portage County on Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

James Higham, director of field engineering for Spectrum Charter Communications, discusses the expansion of broadband internet in Portage County on Jan. 25 in Freedom Township.

Assessing the need

Portage County Commissioner Tony Badalamenti said county officials looked into the problem of poor internet service in Portage County. A few locations “definitely stood out” as places most in need of internet service.

“It’s hard to believe that a county of 162,000 residents didn’t have internet service,” he said.

Walker and Badalamenti credited Ryan Shackelford, head of Portage County’s Emergency Management Agency, for helping make the project happen.

Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Tony Badalamenti, Gail Pavliga and Charlene Walker learn about how Spectrum Charter Communications splices fiber cables from John Rzymek, a Spectrum field technician.Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Tony Badalamenti, Gail Pavliga and Charlene Walker learn about how Spectrum Charter Communications splices fiber cables from John Rzymek, a Spectrum field technician.

Sabrina Christian-Bennett, Tony Badalamenti, Gail Pavliga and Charlene Walker learn about how Spectrum Charter Communications splices fiber cables from John Rzymek, a Spectrum field technician.

Trucks heading out

Those who attended the event got to see one of Spectrum’s fiber splicing trucks, and learn how fiber is run to homes in the area.

Chuck Sullivan, area vice president of field operations, said the company’s efforts enable people to be more connected.

“We enable all of you to work from home, and to connect with your family members,” he said.

Reporter Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139 or [email protected].

Chuck Sullivan of Spectrum Charter Communications discusses the company's efforts to expand rural broadband internet service in Portage County.Chuck Sullivan of Spectrum Charter Communications discusses the company's efforts to expand rural broadband internet service in Portage County.

Chuck Sullivan of Spectrum Charter Communications discusses the company’s efforts to expand rural broadband internet service in Portage County.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Spectrum launches expansion of broadband internet to rural Portage County

 

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