Ohio group asks for consumer input on broadband availability

Apparently not trusting the word of service providers like Time Warner Cable and AT&T, a non-profit research firm, Connect Ohio, is using a $1.8 million federal stimulus grant to ask consumers where and how much broadband connectivity they have. The organization plans to use the information to map out the state as part of a larger national broadband map being compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Interestingly, while Connect Ohio--which is linked with a larger Washington, D.C.-based non-profit called Connected Nation--seems to be taking a skeptical look at broadband availability by going directly to consumers, it's not enough according to some. Art Brodsky, of Public Knowledge, suggested that the survey relies too heavily on Internet providers who would, of course, overstate their capabilities. That, said Connect Ohio, is why it's asking citizens to use its "Locate Me" feature and provide information.

Here's the kicker in the whole thing: the FCC defines broadband as 768 Kbps--just slightly faster than a 1963 Volkswagen with a flat tire--and under those rules it's estimated only 2.1 percent of the state don't have access from at least one service provider.

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