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Recent News // VIDEO: Roundtable looks to better internet access in Mahoning, Trumbull counties

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The following story first aired on WFMJ-TV on August 8, 2017. 

BOARDMAN, Ohio -Community leaders in Mahoning and Trumbull counties are looking to bring better high-speed internet access to the area. 

Congressman Bill Johnson hosted a roundtable discussion Monday morning about the need bring better internet to the Valley, particularly to rural and urban areas. 

The results of a connectivity report were widely discussed, with leaders and more than a dozen internet providers hoping to find solutions. 

Congressman Johnson says it's putting many children as well as businesses at a disadvantage. "You can't run a manufacturing business if you can't talk to your customers and your suppliers, a sales distribution business. You can't educate your children. So we've got to solve this problem,"  Johnson said.

Johnson feels that in this day in age that is unacceptable. "We're losing a lot of intellectual capital from people out in the highways and byways of eastern and southeastern Ohio that don't get to participate in a 21st-century economy," Johnson said.

The report, issued earlier by Connect Ohio, says that Youngstown-Mahoning County scored just 60.03 points out of 100 overall in broadband and technology readiness. 

The study says that the worst areas in the Valley for internet access are Newton, Weathersfield, Poland, Jackson, Mesopotamia, Farmington, Greene, Gustavus, Kinsman, Johnston, and Hubbard Townships. 

The manager of a North Lima business, KTSDI, finds himself in one of those gap areas. "If you look over that way, or that way, our neighbors all have much better stronger faster service," said Ken Timmings of  KTSDI. For a company with global partners,  Timmings says a high speed, reliable internet is a must.

KTSDI would like to increase its workforce, but the internet problem is also a roadblock to adding more people to the payroll. 

 "If the internet's our grid lock, which it currently is, we're kind of sitting tight until we can solve some problems there," Timmings said.

The study also reports that there are more than 68,000 homes without broadband internet access, and of those with access nearly a third of households say they aren't happy with their current broadband provider. 

"Access to broadband has become a vital tool in community and economic development," said John Moliterno, Executive Director of the Western Reserve Port Authority. "As we prepare for future economies, we need to include broadband as an integral part of the local infrastructure."

Monday's discussion worked with broadband providers, private companies, and non-profit organizations to find solutions such as expanding the cable infrastructure and making broadband more cost accessible to lower income families. 

The entire study can be read here.