‘Every day, we’re falling behind in Appalachian Ohio’: Lack of broadband hurts rural areas

Thursday, October 29th

AMESVILLE — Heather Mitchell is overwhelmed.

The single mom of three boys struggles just to send a text message.

She and her sons –– Micah, 6, River, 4, and Wren, 2 –– have been living without consistent internet access in Athens County for nearly eight years. The family moved to Amesville, a village about 80 miles southeast of Columbus and 13 miles northeast of Athens, about a year and a half ago.

“Where we’re at, there’s no provider,” Mitchell said.

Forget a Wi-Fi connection: If the 33-year-old wants to send a text, she has to huddle in the corner of her house. Outside, what looks like a triangular cone is attached to a baking sheet from a toaster oven and tacked onto a skinny pole.

The contraption, a Verizon Wireless LTE booster, strengthens the signal of Mitchell’s phone — one strained text message at a time. Her father added the extra scrap of metal from the toaster oven so they could get a better signal.

The Mitchells are among hundreds of thousands of families challenged by modern economic, education and health-care systems while living without internet access in rural Ohio. COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue, but the problem has been persistent in Appalachia for decades.

Sitting outside, with southeastern Ohio’s rolling hills in the backdrop, Mitchell said she is content to live an unplugged lifestyle.

But lack of access is exhausting.



Read complete Columbus Dispatch article: https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/state/2020/10/29/without-broadband-internet-access-appalachian-ohio-falling-behind/3561276001/