The southeastern Ohio broadband desert persists

December 13, 2019

By: Heather Willard

In rural areas around the nation, residents struggle to acquire broadband services in their homes.

A new study has found that upwards of 90 percent of Southeastern Ohio homes in low-occupancy areas do not have access to broadband services.

The lack of internet has led to these rural areas lagging behind their urban counterparts due to internet requirements for schoolwork, job hunting and numerous other activities. Dozens, if not hundreds, of articles detail the lacking infrastructure over almost a decade, but still nothing has been done.

But Buckeye Hills Regional Council has high hopes of introducing new infrastructure to the area, having studied the various options for implementing rural broadband and budgetary forecasts.

To that end, a group of interested individuals, most representing stakeholder groups, met Wednesday morning at the Ohio University Innovation Center to learn about the study findings on the extent of the digital desert in Southeastern Ohio.

Funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission, the study looked at eight counties, including Athens, to find what areas of the rural expanse are unserved, or represented through flawed mapping that overstated broadband availability.

Ohio University and the Athens County Economic Development Council collaborated on the study, which was conducted by the Buckeye Hills Regional Council. Sara Marrs-Maxfield, director of the Athens County economic council, said her team would be stepping back as the project moves past the study portion and into more of a regional project.

Read the full article in the Athens Messenger here: