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.
Between a third and two-thirds of all households in each of these fifty communities were without wireline broadband during the 2015-19 ACS survey period, making them the worst connected among Ohio’s 150 communities in their size range.
This “fifty worst connected” list includes all of Ohio’s big central cities except Columbus. But it also includes many smaller communities like Zanesville, Portsmouth, Greenville, Marion, Mansfield, Ashtabula, Bucyrus and Xenia.
By definition, none of these cities are “rural”, though some are in largely rural parts of the state. They all have cable, DSL and/or fiber broadband services physically available in virtually all of their residential areas, usually from more than one provider. None have neighborhoods that would have qualified as “unserved areas”, eligible for residential broadband deployment subsidies under House Bill 13.
But each of these cities has thousands, or tens of thousands, of households living without the fast, reliable wireline Internet connections they need for school, employment, commerce, healthcare, civic and social life.
The next round of legislation to deal with Ohio’s broadband divide must take these households and communities into account.