CFAES report focuses on ways to increase rural access to broadband internet

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PROVIDED ARTICLE

About one million Ohio users don’t have access to fast, reliable Internet service in their homes, according to a recent report from the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at The Ohio State University.

“This unserved population largely lives in less populated rural regions of the state where it is prohibitively expensive for internet service providers to extend service,” said Mark Partridge, chair of the Swank program and professor in Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics in a press release.

According to the report, the Swank program identified five ways that need a focused state effort to bridge Ohio’s digital divide and to extend broadband access to undersevered areas of the state.

They include:
• Establishing a state broadband office to coordinate the many state agencies that contribute to broadband utilization and expansion.
• Adopting a state “dig once” policy to leverage non-broadband infrastructure projects and reduce the costs of broadband expansion.
• Strengthening public-private partnerships so that public infrastructure can be effectively used to expand broadband access without creating anti-competitive conditions.
• Establishing a broadband investment fund to finance infrastructure required to reach unserved populations.
• Promoting the development of local government policies that facilitate last-mile broadband provisions.
“Significant economic benefits are produced when households are able to access a broader range of products and services at lower prices,” Partridge said in the release. “Based on economists’ estimates of the average consumer benefit of broadband access between $1,500 to $2,200 per year, we conservatively estimate that reaching full broadband coverage today would generate between $1 billion and $2 billion in economic benefits over the next 15 years.”

You can download the entire report at go.osu.edu/ConnectingTheDots

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