Published by the Star Beacon on February 18, 2019
by Jonn Wysochansk
Ashtabula, OH. – Officials are continuing to study ways to provide more and better broadband internet access to county residents, many of whom may live in areas with slow service and few providers.
About 1.3 percent of consumers in the county live in areas with zero residential broadband providers, 12.4 percent have one provider, 75.7 percent have two providers and 10.6 percent have three or more providers, according to a study by the research firm BroadbandNow. These numbers lag behind state and national averages
Statewide just over a half-percent have no providers, 4.3 percent have one provider, 38.7 percent have two providers and 56.4 percent have three or more providers. Nationally about 89 percent have two or three providers available.
An interactive map on the BroadbandNow website shows much of the county, especially townships like Pierpont, Dorset, Andover, Wayne, Williamsfield and New Lyme, have few internet options and in some places there are still no providers. Even in the city of Ashtabula, where there are 10 internet providers, the top 10 percent of download speeds are slower than state averages.
“Unfortunately, the FCC’s latest reports paint a disappointing picture of internet access in the USA,” the report states.
“Twenty-four million Americans still don’t have access to broadband service, and millions more only have two options for service. In rural areas, download speeds are barely better than dial up.”
The Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners continue to study ways to bring more broadband access to the county, board president J.P. Ducro said. At their March meeting, the Ashtabula County Township Trustees Association will hear from a firm that specializes in bringing more internet options and stronger signals to rural areas.
County officials are exploring grant opportunities for internet infrastructure and figuring out what the best strategy is for “getting more bang for the buck” when it comes to strengthening service, Ducro said.
However, given that technology changes rapidly, county officials don’t want to invest in something only to have it become obsolete.
“We want to make sure we aren’t investing in something that’s going to be outdated shortly after it’s placed,” Ducro said.
Officials are in the process of studying potential locations for signal devices. One possibility is collaborating with farmers and using silos or tall structures on their properties to place receivers and antennas used to transmit broadband and wireless signals, Ducro said.
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