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”.
In our last post we reviewed Richard Cordray’s broadband positions, outlined as part of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s infrastructure bond proposal. Recognizing that Ohio’s digital divide affects low income city residents as well as unserved rural communities, Cordray’s plan promises to support broadband initiatives by local governments; encourage commercial ISPs to use available Federal dollars to expand rural access; restore state funding for local workforce and library digital skills training programs; and create an “Office of Connectivity” to coordinate Ohio’s broadband policy.
Six days ago, Cordray’s Republican rival Michael DeWine answered with his own broadband position, included in the DeWine/Husted “Ohio Prosperity Plan”.
Here’s the DeWine plan’s broadband language in its entirety:
Expand broadband infrastructure across Ohio to make Ohio a frontrunner in mobile edge technologies. Our state cannot be tech-friendly when some people and communities don’t have access to the digital highway that allows them to participate and grow. Understanding the cost involved, the DeWine-Husted administration will work closely with the private sector to expand our broadband infrastructure.
“Mobile edge technologies” is one of AT&T’s promised “next big things” associated with 5G; see here and here. This phrase is probably DeWine’s way of promising strong state government support for AT&T’s 5G plans in Ohio, whatever they turn out to be. (Hint: Not rural broadband.) Read more