The results of a study are in and its authors recommend Stark County invest in a regional middle mile fiber-optic network, establish a broadband authority, and take other significant steps to keep the county from falling behind in today’s economy.
The Fourth Utility
The county has relied heavily on manufacturing and retail in the past but as those opportunities dry up, young people are moving away and the future is in jeopardy. Healthcare is another strong industry in the region, but access to high-quality connections is now a must-have for hospitals and clinics. Elected officials also recognize that diversifying the local economy to lure companies that offer higher paying positions will bring new blood to Stark County.
In order to attract new commerce to Stark County, Ohio, they formed a Broadband Task Team (SCBBTT) in the fall of 2014. They have adhered to the philosophy that connectivity is a “fourth utility” and should be treated like electricity, water, gas, or sewer systems. In May, the SCBBTT hired a consultant to perform a feasibility study; the firm presented its findings and recommendations on October 12th.
Consultants Offer Results, Recommendations
Consultants analyzed the amount of fiber in the county and reviewed the state of connectivity for businesses and residents and found both lacking.
Incumbents include local provider MCTV, which offers cable TV, Internet access, and phone services over its coaxial fiber network. Charter Communications, which recently acquired Time Warner Cable assets in the area, and AT&T offer cable and DSL but the feasibility revealed that there is very little fiber connectivity for residents or businesses.
They recommend that the county employ a six-pronged approach:
- Formalized Broadband-Friendly Policies and Standards
- Develop a Carrier-Neutral Middle-Mile Fiber-Optic Backbone
- Expand Connections to Regional Data Centers
- Equip Economic Development Areas with Fiber Connectivity
- Target Businesses in Close Proximity to Fiber Backbone...