Greenville is Ohio’s 17th worst connected midsized or large city, with 39% of its 5,800 households lacking wireline broadband connections, according to recent American Community Survey data.
To our surprise (and a lot of other people’s), Ohio’s 133rd General Assembly never did get around to passing House Bill 13, the “Ohio broadband bill”, during its December lame duck sessions. So that bill is dead, and it’s back to square one for proponents of rural broadband subsidies and a state broadband office in Ohio state government.
It’s likely that the new General Assembly will take up the now-popular topic of the state’s “broadband gap” pretty quickly. When they do, here’s a new CYC factsheet they should take very seriously:
It shows fifty of Ohio’s midsized and large cities — defined as having 5,000 or more households –along with the numbers and percentage of those households lacking cable, DSL or fiber optic Internet service at any speed, according to the U.S. Census’ most recent American Community Survey. Read more
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”.
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.