The digital divide isn’t just a problem of big cities and rural townships. There are communities of all sizes throughout Northeast Ohio where more than one in four households has “zero broadband” — i.e., no home broadband subscription of any kind including smartphone access.
The region’s five biggest cities — Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Lorain and Youngstown — are on the list. But so are Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Ravenna, Conneaut, Elyria, Barberton and a dozen other smaller places.
Of course, each of these communities has an even higher percentage of households that lack normal “wireline” connections such as cable Internet, DSL or home fiber.
The Democratic candidate for Ohio Governor, Richard Cordray, released his long-awaited Infrastructure Plan last week, with a commitment to raise billions of dollars in new bond funding (but not taxes) for a variety of infrastructure investments.
It includes a section called “Expanding Access to Broadband”, reprinted here in its entirety. That section hasn’t gotten much attention from the media. It deserves more.
Of course Cordray’s plan starts with a focus on increasing fast Internet access for Ohio’s unserved rural communities: “One-third of Ohio’s rural households lack access to modern digital tools because of where they live, compounding inequities in school funding and other public services.” But it goes on to add: “Low-income residents in Ohio’s largest cities also face obstacles. Across the state, one million Ohioans have access to only one internet provider, leaving them at the mercy of broadband companies that can charge higher prices and provide unreliable service for too many people.” Read more
Ohio politicians looking for an issue that unites the interests of Ohioans on both sides of the “urban/rural divide” should take a long hard look at this map.
(Click on the double arrow on the left side of the map to enlarge it.)