Broadband 4Ohio

An initiative created by the Perry County Think Tank on Poverty.

In a digital age, rural Ohioans are being left behind.

Almost 40% of rural Americans (around 23 million people) do not have access to broadband in their homes. According to staff of the Joint Economic Committee in a report on America’s Digital Divide, the majority of rural residents do not have access to broadband in 15 states.

This trends continues in Ohio.

Southeastern Ohio in particular has been harmed by the digital divide. Visual credit to Olivia Geho.

Southeastern and Appalachian Ohio are particularly impacted by lack of broadband.

In Monroe County, a staggering 71% of residents do not have adequate access to broadband. Vinton County Comes in at a close second of 68% of residents lacking broadband. At least 40% of Perry County residents don’t have access to broadband.

Without Broadband:

Children and adults are robbed of their ability to seek an education

Nearly 12 million children live in homes that lack a broadband connection. The ‘homework gap’ between families who have access to laptops and broadband internet and those who don’t is no secret to federal and state officials. By the time the COVID 19 pandemic threw the world into turmoil, it was too late for the gap to be bridged.

The Appalachian Regional Commission found that 52.2% of adults ages 25 to 44 in Appalachian Ohio have some type of post-secondary education. In comparison, 63.3% of adults in the same age group in the nation as a whole had some form of post-secondary education. Broadband opens the door to educational options that most rural Ohioans would not otherwise.

To find out more about how students are hurt by lack of internet access, watch the interview with the superintendent of New Lexington schools below:

Distressed and economically at-risk areas are deprived of job opportunities

In 2019, three counties in Southeastern and Appalachian Ohio were considered economically distressed. Ten counties in the same regions were considered at-risk. These counties lack economic diversity and robust job opportunities, and therefore experience higher rates of unemployment. Lack of broadband internet means that residents cannot easily search for jobs, nor work remotely.

Lack of broadband also means that businesses that would otherwise find footholds in small towns seek out areas with higher connectivity, thereby taking potential jobs and economic development with them.

Residents are unable to access critical health services

The COVID 19 pandemic made the medical aspect of the digital divide extremely apparent. Doctor’s offices throughout Ohio closed to in-person meetings in favor of Telehealth. In areas such as Perry County, where 40% of residents don’t have access to the FCC’s minimum definition of broadband, this was impossible many.

Residents with heart monitors and other medical equipment that require an internet connection to function most confront the reality of being sent home with non-operational devices.

What can you do?

1. Download and Use the TestIT App

With the TestIT app, you can test your internet speed in your home, at the grocery store, wherever you are! Using the app helps us to build a map of broadband access across Perry County. With the push of a button, you will be part of the solution.

After you’ve tested your broadband, screenshot your results and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #Broadband4Ohio to share your results!

Download the TestIT app here:

2. Volunteer with the Perry County Think Tank on Poverty

And join your neighbors in fighting for broadband access.

We are always looking for active, enthusiastic participants in the PCTTP leadership team. If you are interested, please click below to enter your information! 

Appalachian Ohio cannot be left behind.

Interviews with residents of Appalachia

When small towns and rural communities don’t have access to adequate broadband, small businesses suffer. We spoke with John Clark, owner of Clark’s Market, to find out how lack of broadband has impacted him and his business. To find out more: https://www.thinktanksonpoverty.com/Broadband4Ohio
We sat down with former mayor of Crooksville, Ohio, Fred Redfern, to discuss the challenges that rural communities face due to lack of broadband access, especially as regards the education system. Hosted by the Perry County Think Tank on Poverty.

Rural Broadband Town Halls

Approximately 88.2% of rural counties in the U.S. are considered medically underserved. Rural and small town American’s face greater health challenges than those living in urban and suburban areas with greater access to resources. One of these resources is broadband. Without adequate broadband, necessary hospital equipment such as heart monitors, MRIs, X-Rays, and EMS services cannot properly function. Additionally, telehealth is virtually impossible. Bringing broadband to rural residents is very literally life and death.
Broadband is often 1) extremely expensive or 2) impossible to get because there aren’t any providers close enough to your home. If it is somehow affordable and close enough, the quality is so bad it’s like having no broadband at all! Without internet, kids can hardly do their homework anymore. If they can’t do their homework then they fall behind, and ultimately our kids suffer for something they can’t control. Join us as we discuss how lack of broadband is impacting education in rural and small town Ohio, and what has to be done to change it.
Rural communities and small towns are the heart of Ohio. Sometimes it feels like they are being left behind and forgotten. In order to bring jobs to these communities, they need broadband. Small businesses need internet for customers to pay with credit cards, to promote themselves on places like Facebook, to have a website, and to do things like payroll. Without these things, it’s very difficult for them to grow. Join us as we discuss how lack of broadband is impacting economic development in rural and small town Ohio, and what has to be done to change it.

Who are we?

The Perry County Think Tank on Poverty was formed in 2018 by local leaders involved with the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry decided that we needed a Think Tank in the region to address the structural issues that keep people in need of food pantries at all. 1 in 2 Perry County residents are low income and struggle to meet their basic needs. 

PCTTP in the news:

NEW LEXINGTON — On June 18, community leaders and representatives took time during the evening to discuss and address the scarcity of basic internet broadband, which not only affects Perry County, but most of the southeastern rural expanse.

The Perry Tribune: Broadband in region needed now more than ever

NEW LEXINGTON — The Perry County Board of Commissioners had a busy morning for their weekly public meeting on Thursday, April 11. A total of eight presentations made their way onto the day’s agenda.

The Perry Tribune: Coffey Describes Upcoming Construction to Commission

Would you like to contact us?

Do you live in Perry County or southeastern Ohio? Have you struggled with broadband and want to join the fight? Are you just looking to learn more about the state of broadband in rural Ohio? We’d love to hear from you!