Ceremony marks broadband access in Carroll County

CARROLLTON – Carroll County commissioners, Governor’s Office of Appalachia representatives, representatives from Agile Networks and CUE Band, along with members of the Connect Appalachia Broadband Task Force and Connect Ohio held a ceremonious ribbon-cutting event Thursday in Sherrodsville.

The event celebrated the initial deployment of countywide broadband access to the many unserved and underserved homes and businesses throughout Carroll County.

“The Governor’s Office of Appalachia is honored to be a part of the partnerships that will bring broadband access to many homes and businesses in Carroll County,” said Jason Wilson, director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia. “Broadband access is an essential part of day-to-day business activities and provides our students with access to countless educational opportunities. This is another milestone in our commitment to improving broadband access in Appalachia and improving the quality of life for our residents.”

The Agile Networks and CUE Band broadband service deployment is helping to bridge an existing digital divide for Carroll County residents. Research from Connect Ohio’s Carroll County technology profile shows that there are currently more than 2,500 unserved residents in the area that do not have access to high-speed Internet.

“The residents and businesses of Carroll County have been unserved by high-speed Internet for too long and deserve the opportunity to high-speed access,” said Tom Wheaton, Carroll County commissioner.

“Deployment of countywide high-speed Internet access will help people to work at home, small businesses, especially Carroll County’s farmers and agriculture, to make better business decisions and build economic development. This couldn’t come at a better time with all that is happening with oil and gas in the county. Service is needed as the population is growing to keep Carroll County from falling behind the rest of the world,” he said.

Equipment has been deployed in the Dellroy and Carrollton areas, connecting residents to wireless high-speed Internet. The initial deployment will reach more than 4,000 residents and businesses countywide.

“Lack of access is the immovable barrier to adoption, which we started to overcome in Carroll today, but we can’t stop there,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio. “According to our extensive 2012 Residential Technology Survey, Ohio surged to a 71 percent adoption rate, well above the national adoption rate of 66 percent. With that, rural Appalachia Ohioans were the only demographic to show a decline in adoption. Barriers to adoption are the same in Appalachia as they are around the world, with lack of digital literacy as the same issue. Connect Ohio has partnered with Goodwill and Carroll County Jobs and Family Services to offer free computer training classes. After completion of the training, participants are eligible to receive discounts toward computer purchases.”