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Blog // Connect Ohio

Broadband Trends in Ohio

By Lindsay Shanahan

Ohio has been a leader in fostering a vibrant broadband ecosystem in the state, according to the report, Ohio Broadband Trends, released today by Dr. John Hoag of Ohio University. However, significant and substantial gaps in broadband availability and adoption still persist in Ohio according to the report, which was sponsored by Connect Ohio.

Ohio was one of the first states to formally create a state-based broadband leadership initiative. The report documents that states with these ongoing comprehensive broadband initiatives collectively lead the nation in broadband availability and adoption. 

However, the report does document persistent broadband availability, adoption, and use gaps in Ohio:

  • While most of Ohio has access to basic broadband service (95%), broadband speeds in Appalachian Ohio are significantly slower than in urban areas—for DSL technology, speeds in Ohio urban areas are up to 7 times faster than in Appalachian Ohio; for cable modem, urban speeds are 1.5 times faster than cable modem service in Appalachia.
  • However, like many other states, broadband adoption in Ohio has stalled. Nearly one in four Ohio households have not adopted broadband; in Appalachia Ohio, nearly one in three households have not adopted. Dr. Hoag finds that this “stubborn rate of non-adoption” has not closed markedly over the last few years.
  • Reliance on mobile broadband is increasing, but data caps are affecting how consumers use this service. 45% of mobile broadband subscribers in Appalachia Ohio report that they hit their mobile data cap in the last year, while 38% of non-Appalachian subscribers report hitting their cap. 
  • Ohio is a leader in using broadband in education, but regional differences remain. Ohio is second in the nation in online K-12 school enrollments (31,000) students. However, students in Appalachia are half as likely to have access to a school-provided device, and for those have that access, 20% of those students cannot use them at home due to lack of broadband access.

To paint this comprehensive picture of broadband in Ohio, Dr. Hoag’s report includes broadband adoption and availability data collected by Connect Ohio since 2009 as well as other data sources. Dr. Hoag concludes that “a digital divide persists in Ohio . . . having a lower household income, having less education, having a physical impairment, being older, and residing in Appalachia all correlate with not adopting broadband.”

Overcoming these challenges and gaps is the mission of Connect Ohio and our work in the state. Federal policy initiatives that will subsidize the monthly cost of broadband service for low-income households will be available later this year, and Connect Ohio is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to improve broadband access alongside rural public transportation system upgrades. We look forward to continuing to serve the people of Ohio in fulfilling this mission.

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