Excerpt from Cordray/Sutton Infrastructure Plan, released Aug 2, 2018:
Expanding Access to Broadband
What’s holding Ohio back
Access to the internet is no longer a luxury: it is a necessity to compete in the modern economy. Broadband access in Ohio, however, remains poor. 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. Lack of access impacts all of us: Researchers estimate that expanding broadband to all Ohio households would have an economic benefit of $728 million each year. 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. As technology improves, Ohioans are paying more for internet speeds that remain quite slow by international standards. Businesses sometimes struggle to find service that meets their data and service needs, and farmers need reliable access while planting and testing their crops.
What will move Ohio forward:
Establish a state Office of Connectivity. Ohio does not have a single state office or agency that coordinates the state’s broadband policy, leaving broadband policy to be decided by a tangled web of various state agencies and departments. Coordinating these efforts will lower costs and accelerate efforts to expand affordable access throughout the state and provide training to use it.
Give local governments more flexibility and support. The Cordray-Sutton administration will work with local governments to get them the flexibility and tools they need to bring broadband to every corner of the state and solve the issue of “last-mile” access. We encourage private providers to continue to participate in the Connect America Fund, and will help localities directly in their efforts to expand broadband access, offering targeted incentives to those towns and cities working to provide high-speed internet for their citizens.
Leverage existing dollars to providing training opportunities. Access to broadband alone means nothing without the skills to use it. Since 2010, Connect Ohio has been awarded $7 million in federal grants for Ohio’s Broadband Initiative to providing training and assistance in accessing the internet. We will restore local government dollars, including those used to support workforce training and library training programs, to ensure everyone has the skills to take advantages of the 21st century economy.