These maps will be critical tools in determining where we need to begin our work. And that work is crucial because more access to broadband means more economic growth, more job opportunities and a better quality of life for our families.
Columbus, Ohio (Vocus) June 27, 2008 -–
Connect Ohio, a Columbus-based non-profit organization working to accelerate high-speed Internet availability and use across Ohio, released the state’s first statewide availability map at its inaugural steering committee meeting today. The map provides the first accurate representation of broadband availability in Ohio, illustrating where broadband service currently exists and the service gaps that are yet to be filled. Connect Ohio's mapping efforts show that broadband service is currently available to 92% of Ohio households, while a remaining 350,000 households do not have access to such service.
"Today marks an important step forward in our efforts to bring broadband to every community in Ohio," said Governor Ted Strickland. "These maps will be critical tools in determining where we need to begin our work. And that work is crucial because more access to broadband means more economic growth, more job opportunities and a better quality of life for our families."
The broadband inventory map and accompanying county-by-county research provide a snapshot of what will be Connect Ohio's work over the coming months. The initiative, established by Governor Strickland, is a public-private partnership that works with technology-minded businesses, government entities and universities to close what is known as the “digital divide.” Connect Ohio will facilitate strategies that will help ensure broadband service is available to each Ohio household and business and dramatically improve the use of technology. The Connect Ohio Steering Committee offers government and business leaders across the state the opportunity to change the face of technology in Ohio by helping to guide the work of what is the state's first comprehensive, statewide broadband expansion initiative.
"This map is an important first step to making sure that every part of Ohio's 88 counties is connected," Seth Rosen, Vice President, Communications Workers of America, District 4, said. "'Connect Ohio will now provide the opportunity for underserved communities to work together with providers, unions and other leaders to assure that we take the next steps."
Connect Ohio has collaborated with nearly 60 broadband providers in the state to produce the broadband inventory map. To view Connect Ohio's broadband inventory map and research, go to http://www.connectohio.org.
Charles R. Moses, president of the Ohio Telecom Association, representing 41 telecommunications providers and four wireless providers in Ohio said his member companies are enthusiastic about the initial results. "We are very encouraged by this data. Our companies work hard every day to provide the most advanced telecommunications services for all Ohioans. We know there is more to do. The promise of Connect Ohio is not only to address gaps in deployment, but as the results show, significant work must be done to close the gaps in usage of broadband services."
Jonathon McGee, executive director of the Ohio Cable Telecommunications Association, was not surprised by Connect Ohio’s findings that 92 percent of Ohio households have access to broadband technology. "The Connect Ohio survey confirms what the OCTA has been saying, in that broadband is widely available to Ohio's businesses and residents. Over the past 12 years, the Ohio cable industry has invested billions of dollars in private capital to provide broadband service to our customers, and we will continue to lead the private sector's efforts in meeting Ohio's broadband needs. We look forward to working with Governor Strickland and Connect Ohio on ways to continue expanding broadband availability across Ohio."
Full broadband deployment could realize great potential for Ohio’s future particularly in regard to healthcare and education. Connect Ohio has found that there are many Ohio families who have not realized the benefits of broadband, because they do not have a computer in their home. Connect Ohio’s research shows that need is significant, especially in low-income families making less than $25,000 annually: thirty-six percent (36%) of Ohio's low-income families with children do not own a computer.
To address this issue, Connect Ohio has launched an initiative called No Child Left Offline®, which will directly serve the technology needs of children across the state. No Child Left Offline® will make computer technology available in libraries, classrooms and homes so that children can gain access the digital world.
Today, Connect Ohio announced its intention to distribute the first series of No Child Left Offline® computers to eligible families served by the Rosa Parks Neighborhood Network Center in Columbus, Ohio. Working in conjunction with Rosa Parks Center, Connect Ohio has identified fifteen families who participate at the center regularly and would benefit from having a computer in their homes.
"This is a red-letter day for technology in Ohio," said Brent Legg, interim executive director of Connect Ohio. "No Child Left Offline® is creating a tangible solution to combat the lack of computers in low-income homes across Ohio. Moreover, government and business leaders are now more fully aware of broadband availability in the state, along with the challenges and opportunities that accompany that knowledge. The broadband inventory maps being released today provide an understanding of where broadband is and where it is not and better supports Connect Ohio's grassroots efforts to make full broadband deployment a reality for all Ohioans."
About Connect Ohio: As a public-private partnership established by Governor Ted Strickland, Connect Ohio partners with technology-minded businesses, government entities and universities to accelerate technology in the state. For more information about what Connect Ohio is doing to accelerate technology in Ohio's communities, visit http://www.connectohio.org.