YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Everybody loves the internet for different reasons. Some people may find its benefits if they could just get connected. It’s a big problem around here, and for different reasons. We explored the issue of internet connectivity and found one way you can get help.
We think everyone is connected to the internet. 97% of Youngstown has access and the equipment to connect is there. The problem is not a physical connection.
“It’s the idea that people can’t afford the Internet and they don’t know how to use the Internet. So that aspect of the connectivity is the problem,” said Pat Kerrigan with Oak Hill Collaborative.
East Cleveland is the least connected city in the state, followed by Youngstown with 47% unconnected. Warren ranks fifth and Niles 32nd.
Trumbull County has 85,612 homes and 16,122 — or 19% — have no access through a combination of affordability and infrastructure needs. The digital divide can make income inequality greater.
“They look at their phone. They can do things with the phone but they can’t print. They can’t do resumes. It’s hard to apply for jobs, all those things. And then their kids are in that same boat and they get further behind,” said Kerrigan.
The problem in cities is mostly an affordability problem. The problem in counties is getting more equipment to rural areas. People who are connected are ahead of others who don’t have the same access.
“Definitely an investment in the future. Many people, especially people that might have money or have power, have knowledge of computers. They don’t think of it. They don’t realize that other people don’t have the benefits they do,” said Kerrigan.
The Oak Hill Collaborative sells discounted equipment, has free classes, and helps people sign up for the Affordability Connectivity Program. It helps people get on the internet cheaper if they meet income qualifications.
“We sign people up for free. So if you’re, you know, income-qualified, you get $30 a month off. That’s a start,” said Kerrigan.
Oak Hill Collaborative is a great place to start if you want to connect and need help. It’s also working to develop a plan to help Trumbull County.
To view the complete Regional Broadband Feasibility Study click here.