Spectrum cable and AT&T fiber share a pole in Cleveland, where 47% of households have neither.
Ohio’s lame-duck General Assembly will soon give final approval to Amended House Bill 13, their long-awaited $50 million rural broadband bill. And the FCC has just announced $170 million in winning bids for Ohio broadband investments through its “Rural Development Opportunity Fund”. All $220 million is earmarked to build new high-speed Internet infrastructure for unserved rural areas of the state.
But newly released data from the U.S. Census shows that Ohio’s broadband divide (defined as the lack of fast home Internet service needed for school, work, healthcare, personal finances, family and community connections) is a serious issue for urban as well as rural communities.
In fact, most of the state’s households who lack good high-speed Internet connections are in “urban Ohio”, not “rural Ohio”.
In 2019, Cleveland had the highest percentage of households without broadband Internet accounts of any U.S. city with 100,000 or more households, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey (ACS). Almost 53,000 Cleveland households — 31% of the city’s total — lacked broadband subscriptions of any kind at any speed last year, including mobile data plans.
The new ACS data also shows that nearly 79,000 Cleveland households lacked “wireline” broadband connections in 2019 — i.e. cable modem, DSL or fiber Internet service. Cleveland’s 46% wireline non-connection rate was second only to Detroit among the nation’s big cities.
Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis and Newark all ranked among 2019’s five worst-connected big cities in both categories. Clink on the graphic below to see the whole list.
In early March, the FCC released a new round of “Fixed Broadband Deployment Data” based on Internet providers’ reports for June 2019. The agency updated its interactive broadband map with the new information, which includes the “maximum advertised” download and upload speed offered by each provider to at least one residence in each U.S. Census block.
This new FCC deployment data still suffers from all the same problems as earlier releases, including the fact that it systematically overstates the places where higher-speed broadband is actually available.
But there’s another way of looking at that fact: It means that If the FCC map tells us that a provider only offers slow Internet service to homes in a particular Census block (or no service at all), we can be pretty confident that it’s true!
And that brings us to AT&T in Cleveland.