Shelby County creates CONNECT Shelby County for improved broadband access


SIDNEY – Shelby County is participating in a 14-week, fast-track program to create a countywide plan for expanding broadband access. State agencies, BroadbandOhio and Ohio State University Extension Office is supporting community leaders as they gather information about current broadband access and options in Shelby County, connect with other communities on best practices and successful models, and go through an opportunity analysis to identify the best path forward.

Shelby County joins three other teams in the Accelerate Ohio program, Tuscarawas County, Defiance County and Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission.

The mission of the Shelby County Broadband Team, known as CONNECT Shelby County, will provide Shelby County residents access to broadband internet connectivity with solutions that enable prosperity today and for the future. The CONNECT Shelby County committee led by Regional Planning Director Angela Hamberg and Commissioner Julie Ehemann includes 22 public and private sector individuals representing 15 organizations.

“Local collaboration is necessary to drive local broadband access solutions,” said Ehemann. “We’re proud to work with our local community teams including our schools, libraries, and business community who realize it is up to them to develop a vision for what a broadband-fueled future looks like and go after that vision.”

Whether remote learning, virtual doctor visits, or work-from-home opportunities, every home should have reliable internet accessibility that can handle the demands of multiple devices. Due to previous surveys and resident input, it is evident that not every Shelby County resident has reliable broadband internet access.

This initiative will do more than fix present broadband accessibility issues.

“This instructional program will provide Shelby County the opportunity to assess our technology assets, identify the needs of residents, determine feasibility of options and plan a strategy that will result in an effective, scale-able broadband solution,” said Hamberg.

Compiled data of our broadband internet speeds indicates the villages and the city of Sidney are well-served, but like many Ohio counties, outlying rural areas are unserved/under-served with broadband internet speeds. 37% of Shelby County households don’t meet the standards set by the FCC for minimum access broadband internet speeds. While the committee has access to government compiled data and other resources, there is nothing more influential than hearing from residents themselves. Input from county residents will confirm where quality coverage already exists, where the coverage drops off, and identify other obstacles the county faces.

“We recently launched a survey to help identify our areas of service, but most importantly identify gaps and issues being realized throughout Shelby County. Once we can demonstrate our issues, we will have greater success in increasing our service areas. As encouragement for participation, survey participants will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Sidney/Shelby Chamber of Commerce gift certificate,” said Hamberg.

Eight winners will be drawn, one from each Shelby County zip code. Each address is limited to one entry into the drawing.

“We encourage persons to ensure the survey is completed via local internet connection, not through a cell phone or other mobile hotspot or on publicly available Wi-Fi. By using the local internet connection, the upload and download speeds can be captured. This survey data will be valuable information when pursuing broadband grant opportunities,” she said.

The survey can be found at https://go.osu.edu/shelbybb.