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Blog // Connect Ohio

A Home Business Owner's Broadband Story

By Amanda Murphy


The digital divide in Ohio is not exclusive to the more than 73,000 homes with no access to any type of Internet. Rather, it includes thousands more homes and businesses in which dial-up or satellite Internet is their only option. According to Connect Ohio’s recent statewide broadband inventory release, nearly 112,000 homes are unserved or underserved – with access to Internet service less than 3 Mbps download and 768 Kbps upload speeds.

Donna Hutchinson lives a few miles outside of Marietta, Ohio. Though she is very close to the economic hub of Washington County, her home is underserved with access to broadband. Hutchinson’s only option for Internet is a dial-up connection through her home phone line.

According to Hutchinson, her dial-up Internet connection is insufficient for conducting day-to-day business activities. She has a home business through Melaleuca, the Wellness Company. Hutchinson has worked with the organization for 10 years selling safe and green products for the home and training others to establish their own home businesses.

“There’s eighty percent of the (Melaleuca) website that I can’t download right now because it’s just too big,” said Hutchinson. “Basically, the only thing that I have time for, and it takes so much time, is my e-mail and our bank accounts. Maybe once a month I can … go on the Melaleuca site so that I can see what’s going on in my business. Otherwise, I could easily spend 4, 5, 6 hours a day.”

Hutchinson says she looks forward to the day she can speak on the phone and surf the Internet at the same time. She would like to conduct business overviews through webinars, as many of her peers with reliable broadband do, rather than having to use gasoline and time driving to meet with people one-on-one. She could save money.

“I could do a lot more shopping online, too,” she said.

Like many Ohioans who find themselves victim to the digital divide, Hutchinson is frustrated.

“I’ve got grandchildren sending me videos of my great grandchildren and I can’t see it,” said Hutchinson. “I can’t download it. It makes me feel like I’m losing out on something.”

Washington County Commissioners were recently granted $100,000 from the State Appalachian Development Program to be used towards their broadband expansion project. The project has not yet been finalized and additional funding is needed to move forward and connect thousands of underserved households in this area. 


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