For many, it’s impossible to imagine knowing someone in their mid-twenties growing up without a reliable internet.
But they’re out there – and not too far from downtown Cincinnati, either.
“I hardly even get cell service where I live either,” said Jamie Burton, a rural resident of Butler County.
Burton is one of thousands of rural Ohio residents who lack reliable high-speed Internet access from cell phone or cable providers.
Some would argue that Burton is lucky in one respect: she “only” has to commute for 30 minutes each day of the week to use her mother’s internet so she can go online for work from home.
“It’s not even a quarter of a mile from my house that they have Spectrum service,” Burton said. “I contacted them several times and was told that I am too far from the service site to connect my house.”
Difficult situations like Burton’s make many people fear that people, especially children, continue to fall behind their peers in education. It also worries some that as these children grow older they are moving away from their rural communities for better internet options.
This concern is a big reason Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the bipartisan Bill 2 in Middletown in May. Ohio lawmakers designed the law to provide high-speed Internet access to rural areas of the state. The bill was launched with $ 20 million in public funds to begin with, with plans to secure up to an additional $ 200 million in future funding.
RELATED: DeWine travels to Middletown to sign affordable internet access bill
When DeWine signed the bill, Burton hoped his address would quickly be added to a mailing list giving new broadband access for as little as $ 15 a month.
It was not the case. As a result, others in Burton’s position are beginning to doubt that the “Bill 2” program is meant to support will ever come to fruition.
Pamela Shanklin, a mother of two in her twenties and a resident of Williamsburg, said her internet access was deplorable throughout her children’s lives.
“We don’t have any unless you count our phones,” Shanklin said.
Shanklin’s household uses Spectrum for cable, and when asked the company about its broadband internet service, Shanklin said she was shocked by the sticker.
“They wanted $ 14,610 to bring the cables back to my house,” she said. “I asked them … I was like, ‘If I put it in and pay for it, do I own it?'”
Shanklin said that not only was she told no, that she would not own the line, but that anyone else could then connect to her line for service.
Some of Shanklin’s wired neighbors in her community live within 500 feet of the main road. However, the 11-acre home of the Shanklin family for three generations is 700 meters away.
“How is that fair? Shanklin said.
Calls left for Spectrum requesting comment had not been returned Monday afternoon. Even with the bill signed by DeWine – plus an additional $ 106,000 available federally to expand rural high-speed Internet access – many believe there is still not enough money to build the. rural network.
“It’s worrying,” Shanklin said. “My kids won’t want to live here if they don’t have the ability to connect to the Internet.”
One of Shanklin’s sons currently uses a combination of mobile phone services, AOL, and a laptop to record stories for his work as a local sports reporter.
“I mean, I can’t,” Garth Shanklin said. “It’s really hard to do my job without the Internet.”
And while Ohio has kicked off a few pilot programs for the state’s Rural High Speed Initiative since May, Pamela Shanklin and Jamie Burton are wondering when they’ll be able to go online and surf the internet like so many of their neighbors.
“But I’m wondering, what’s the heist? I don’t understand,” Burton said.