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    High-speed Internet Expanding
    AT&T Ohio announced Tuesday afternoon a new program is going to spread high-speed internet into more rural areas throughout Gallia County.
     
    This is a result of collaboration between efforts led in part by Ohio State Representative Ryan Smith and AT&T to promote rural Ohio and give local residents a competitive edge in the economy.
     
    “Obviously everybody here, most of you born and raised here like myself, have known for some time that our internet has held us back from an education standpoint and an economic standpoint,” said Smith. “I’ve been talking to realtors lately, and that’s one of the first things you ask, ‘can I get high speed internet?’”
     
    The new service will provide a minimum of 10 megabits speeds through its wireless connection network. It does not rely on physical cables or connections, but antennas throughout the county that broadcast the signal to the consumer, which use an outdoor antenna to receive the service.
     
    Reportedly this system does not create new towers throughout the county, but will rely on existing towers and upgrades in technology to provide high speed service.
     
    “AT&T remains committed and focused to bringing wireless connectivity to Gallia County,” said Brad McLean, AT&T Director of Governmental Affairs. “It is not lost on anyone here how important internet connectivity is.”
     
    Part of this program is funded through the Federal Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II, which requires AT&T to meet 37,000 new connections to rural homes and small businesses, 40 percent of which will be made this year. AT&T will receive $427 million per year from CAF to provide high speed internet in rural areas. According to AT&T, this money will be spent in 18 states to provide high speed internet and voice connections to rural customers.
     
    “One of the number one questions I hear down here from people buying a house is if there is internet,” said Smith. “Now imagine having a business and trying to compete worldwide as there are areas that don’t have internet. This kind of an investment is going in the right direction and will help develop the area through efficiency and new technology.”
     
    “This has been a long time coming,” said Gallia Commissioner Harold Montgomery. “It will be very beneficial to Gallia County and our citizens.”
    Dean Wright contributed to this story.
    Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108. Dean Wright contributed to this story.