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Study: Ohio Statewide Broadband Office, Investment Fund Could Help Boost Rural Access

First published by Government Technology on May 15, 2017
by Theo Douglas

A recent study by Ohio State University (OSU) researchers found broadband access severely lacking in the state’s rural areas, a deficit they reported could yield significant economic growth if corrected — but if resolved could also lead to other, unintended consequences.

Connecting the Dots of Ohio’s Broadband Policy found that 76 percent of Ohio households had broadband subscriptions in 2015, a share that led neighboring states and lagged just 1 percent behind the national average of 77 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey.

More troublingly, the report from OSU’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics highlighted a disparity between urban Ohio areas, where fixed broadband access is “near universal” and adoption in metro areas ranges from less than 60 percent to more than 90 percent; and rural communities where 31 percent of the population lacks access to fixed broadband — and lives in areas where extending service is “prohibitively expensive.”