COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the next three years, nearly $7 million will go into improving internet access across Ohio. The federal grant money will come through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to increase connectivity for people living in rural communities across the state.
ODOT and Connect Ohio plan to increase broadband access for businesses and schools in rural areas, including parts of Columbiana County. About $200,000 of the grant will go to improving the internet access there.
A large portion of the money is going to improve the transit system in those targeted communities as well.
Connect Ohio Executive Director Lindsay Shanahan said 1.8 million K through 12 students across the state use internet for tests and homework. Connection issues can slow or even halt progress for many with limited access.
“For those who don’t have meaningful connectivity throughout this transition, their options are limited,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said one issue is broadband adoption. For many who have learned to live with a slow connection and sluggish service may not be convinced they need the high-speed service until they actually use it.
Shanahan said that while 98 percent of Americans of access to internet service, one in four does not have it at home.
Connect Ohio It is leading the effort to bring broadband service to every user in an effort to diversify the economy and support Ohio’s competitiveness in the connected global economy of the twenty-first century.