Group looking to expand broadband internet to Ohio’s rural communities

NBC 4 Columbus

February 16, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — More than 300,000 households – approximately one million people — in Ohio lack access to high-speed internet.

Now communities across the state are coming together to solve that problem

The group, Broadband Access Ohio, is made up of more than 20 members from municipalities, townships, and other public entities, all seeking to provide high-speed internet access at an affordable rate.

“If we can help a community develop a broadband infrastructure that improves the quality of service available to children in their homes, then we lift the whole community,” said Thor Sage, executive director of the Miami Valley Educational Computer Association.

This is especially relevant to those rural communities in Ohio that lack the means to reach reliable, broadband service.

“It’s creating a digital equity issue, even within our own community, and that’s something they’re very concerned about,” said Paul Isherwood, broadband coordinator for Athens County.

“We believe that the best way to do it is having you choose your own path, to what fits best for your community, to meet your goals,” said Fairlawn Mayor William Roth.

As chairman of Broadband Access Ohio, Roth said the goal is to work with public-private partnerships to bring the best internet service to those areas, giving the communities the flexibility and affordability they need.

“We do have trouble with it being slow sometimes, cutting in and out,” said Leslie Joiner, a Delaware resident.

As a parent, Joiner said the coalition is something she’s in favor of, especially when her kids have to take classes at home.

“They need to bring it up to speed, up to date, so that it’s accessible for everybody and affordable,” Joiner said.

Currently, over 30 Ohio communities host broadband networks, which is providing connectivity to schools, public safety services, and local hospitals.