Appalachian Ohio Broadband Availability
For decades, rural broadband expansion has been limited by inaccurate FCC coverage maps that show service where in fact there is none. Those FCC maps were based solely on unverified statements from internet providers that exaggerated availability significantly.
Connecting Appalachia’s broadband map is based on millions of real-world, consumer-initiated speed test results from half-a-million unique locations in the state of Ohio. This data comes from Ookla®, one of the largest independent speed testing companies in the world. Ookla® trademarks are used under license and with permission.
Broadband is essential to economic growth. Bringing high-speed internet to rural America will create 530,000 jobs and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $60 billion. In our post-COVID economy, broadband is as important as water, electricity, and roads.
FACT vs. FICTION
The FCC believes that only 190,000 households in the entire state of Ohio do not have broadband. This claim is based solely on unverified Form 477 reports from internet providers.
The FCC has significantly underestimated this number. Statewide, there are over 700,000 households below the FCC minimum of 25/3 Mbps, in Appalachian Ohio 55% of the populated areas access the internet at less than 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up. These facts are based on millions of speed tests run by ordinary people.
The image on the left shows the FCC form 477 data, this is the data that is being used to determine the level of funding necessary to address the digital divide. The image on the right illustrates a truer picture of the region, based on independent consumer tests.
THE METHOD BEHIND THE MAPPING
Coverage ratings are derived from Ookla Speedtest Intelligence® data for the months of February 2020 through May 2021. Ookla® trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission, licensed by InnovateOhio for the State of Ohio. To protect consumer privacy, Ookla limits location precision to 100 meters by 100 meters. As a result, a single location on our map may include multiple households and many individual tests.
Ratings are color coded based on median calculated download/upload speeds: Below 10/1 Mbps is deep red; at least 10/1 Mbps and less than 25/3 Mbps is orange; at least 25/3 Mbps and less than 50/10 Mbps is yellow; at least 50/10 Mbps and less than 100/20 Mbps is light green; and above 100/20 Mbps is dark green. Coverage is displayed at the Census Block level for each county and at the Block Group level for regional and state zoom levels.
To build our maps, first we excluded cellular (LTE, 5G) and satellite providers. Mobile phones were included only if the phone reported being connected to wi-fi. Results with high first-hop latency also were excluded, since that can mean the user was too far away from their router or the router itself was not working right.
After filtering, all results within each 100 meter radius were averaged to generate an overall speed for that location. Census block ratings then were derived by taking the median of all location averages within each block. Where possible, areas with no Ookla data were assigned an extrapolated rating based on comparative analysis of population density, FCC Form 477 data, and RDOF Phase 1 auction award maps.
This project was funded in part by the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio through the Buckeye Hills Foundation.