Ohio budget proposal would invest millions into internet access expansion

Ohio

Approximately 1 million Ohioans have no internet connection

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – Do you take that streaming service account for granted? Many areas don’t have adequate internet service for work or school.

There are places in Ohio that still don’t have internet service. Approximately 1 million Ohioans have no connection.

Ohio’s budget proposal would spend $250 million to help them get it.

“How strong is it? Strong as an onion sandwich, how about that? It is strong all right,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted.

In some counties, 70% of residents do not have access to high-speed internet. The following numbers were provided by Husted’s office:

  • Mahoning County: Over 2% without internet, meaning 5,488 people or 2,169 households
  • Trumbull County: Over 3% without internet, meaning 7,444 people or 2,942 households
  • Columbiana County: Over 18% without internet, meaning 19,205 people or 7,591 households

“That means 18% of the people of that county can’t participate in the modern economy, modern education system. They’re being left behind,” Husted said.

Scott Dunn has been installing wireless internet for RAA Data Services for 14 years. The internet service provider helps connect people where a wire can’t reach them. It has become more important during the pandemic.

“They wanted to make a more permanent installation at their home because they had to build a home office. Their company has told them, they’re not going back,” Dunn said.

Aaron Schwab’s office was closed in Youngstown so he had to start working from home in Leetonia. But, he didn’t have high-speed internet there.

“It’s beautiful and we were sad about having to consider to move just to find an internet service that would work for me,” Schwab said.

Schwab has kids who also needed the internet for school and classes at home. RAA Data Services helped get them connected at speeds the federal government requires to be considered high-speed internet.

“It’s a utility now. It’s no longer a want, but a need,” Schwab said.

Schwab had to rent an office in Columbiana until he could get high-speed internet.

We asked Husted how this budget proposal is different than FCC funding to bring more high-speed internet access. He felt that spending is more upgrading service in many areas where people already have it.

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