BroadbandOhio

BroadbandOhio: MARCS Tower Pilot Program

The state of Ohio through the Office of BroadbandOhio is launching a pilot program to provide low-cost internet service to Ohio Appalachian communities using the state’s Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS) towers.

The pilot program will provide grants to Internet Service Providers to offset the monthly cost of access to the MARCS towers.

Recently the Ohio Department of Administrative Services converted the funding for the MARCs towers from a tax-exempt bond to a taxable bond to allow private companies to use the towers. Moving forward, the MARCS towers may be used for a range of services including cell phone networks and wireless internet service.

How it works

A partnership between the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and the Ohio Development Services Agency, Office of BroadbandOhio, the program will provide grants to Internet Service Providers to help offset the costs of establishing internet service using MARCS towers. Awardees will enter into a grant with the Ohio Development Services Agency to offset the costs of access to the tower(s) and a license agreement with DAS granting the right to place equipment on the tower(s).

Companies will then provide internet service to businesses and households in the community served by the tower. The grant will only cover the monthly costs associated with the tower access. Applicants should note the following:  

  • Access to power will be negotiated with DAS separately.
  • The grantee will be responsible for any engineering analysis necessary to make sure that the tower can hold the equipment and will be responsible for any up-front cost of reinforcing the tower to hold the equipment.
  • The grantee will be responsible for obtaining its own backhaul service.

Grantees will be required to establish service by October 1, 2021.

MARCS Tower Locations

The MARCS Towers that are part of the pilot program are:

Tower ID Name County
40-01 Carmel Church Jackson
40-02 Jackson Jackson
73-03  Otway Scioto
73-06  Rarden Scioto
73-07 Shawnee Fire Tower Scioto
73-08 Southern Ohio C.F Scioto

Eligible Applicants

An internet service provider that can use MARCS towers to provide internet service to the surrounding communities. The applicant must be able to provide a minimum speed of 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed to be eligible for the program. The state of Ohio is technology neutral. Providers will have flexibility in how they use the towers to provide the service.

How to Apply

Internet Services Providers may apply for the program using the MARCS Tower Grant Application form. The application includes a list of required documentation. A copy of the application may be found on the toolbar on the left side of this page.

The grant application period opens on January 22, 2021 and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 2, 2021

Applications may be submitted to BroadbandOhio@Development.Ohio.gov

Information submitted with an application is public record under Ohio Revised Code 149.43, unless otherwise exempt.