Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:25PM - 266 Views

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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

On Friday, Chesapeake Energy, Connect Appalachia Broadband Initiative (CABI) Task Force members, Connect Ohio, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, and the Governor’s Office of Appalachia announced the creation of the CABI Fund.

The fund, administered through the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and established through an initial investment from Chesapeake Energy, provides individuals, corporations, and foundations a convenient platform to participate in the cause to help Appalachian Ohio households get connected. This key financial vessel will provide a computer, technology training, and discounted Internet service to low-income Appalachian Ohio households in need.

“Beyond the compelling moral component of the fund to assist those in need with training, computers, and discounted Internet service, the financial cost of digital exclusion is growing and unnecessarily hinders employment, education, government services, healthcare, public safety, and economic development,” Stu Johnson, Executive Director of Connect Ohio, said. “While there are many exciting national programs and pilots underway to address this need, CABI members are cautious of when these will reach outlying areas of Appalachian Ohio and how burdensome they may be to administer. Consequently, the CABI Fund was created to establish a convenient mechanism to gather resources and ensure efficient, timely, and targeted delivery of services for maximum impact.”

Early in 2012, Connect Ohio released a technology assessment for Scioto County that showed improvement in computer ownership and access to broadband in the last two years.

Connect Ohio released a similar technology assessment for every county in the state, based on a 2011 survey of 1,000 residents. The assessment was based on the responses.

The state of Ohio Broadband adoption averaged about 66 percent. In Scioto County broadband adoption was at 54 percent. In 2008 Scioto County’s broadband adoption rate was 39 percent.

At the time, Scioto County had 93 percent coverage of broadband, Adams County was at 62 percent, Pike County at 92 percent, Jackson County at 80 percent, and Gallia County at 62 percent.

In May, Gov. John Kasich announced that Shawnee State University would be included in Phase 2 of the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) expansion.

According to officials, this inclusion meant an increase in Shawnee State’s bandwidth capacity from one gigabyte to an eventual 100 gigabytes, aiding in increased research capabilities, advancements with high-tech areas such as gaming simulation, and economic development.

“Access to high-speed Internet service is a vital component of Appalachian Ohio’s health and prosperity,” Cara Dingus Brook, president and CEO of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, said. “As new opportunities arise in job-growing fields and business, dependable Internet connectivity will determine our region’s ability to grow and compete in the twenty-first century. The establishment of the CABI Fund at the Foundation is an exciting step toward increasing Appalachian Ohio’s success for many years to come.”

Connect Ohio’s quarterly state Technology Association Meeting was held at the Vern Riffe Center in Columbus with 80 stakeholders, broadband providers, technology companies, and library and community representatives in attendance, including attendees throughout the nation via webcast.

Key findings from Connect Ohio’s 2012 Residential Technology Assessment were presented to meeting attendees, including:

  • In 2012, 71 percent of adult Ohioans reported they had a home broadband subscription, an increase of five percentage points from 2010 and 2011 when the broadband adoption rate was 66 percent.
  • Just over 2.6 million Ohioans do not have home broadband service.
  • Almost half (45 percent) of adult Ohioans are mobile broadband users (they access the Internet via cell phone or subscribe to a mobile wireless service via laptop).
  • Broadband adoption among “Rural Appalachian” Ohio residents has stagnated since 2011: the 2012 broadband adoption rate is 53 percent, while the 2011 rate was 55 percent.
  • Less than half of low-income households in Ohio (46 percent) have a home broadband subscription, while 31 percent are mobile users.
  • Nearly one fifth (17 percent) of employed or self-employed Ohioans are teleworkers (they work from home using an Internet connection, instead of commuting to their usual workplace).

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or flewis@civitasmedia.com

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