OH: "Connect Ohio" Project Embraces CWA's Speed Matters Campaign

Posted on January 7, 2008 - 8:17am.

from: Union Network

"Connect Ohio" Project Embraces CWA's Speed Matters Campaign

- Labour news from UNI global union - for trade unions in a global services economy.

Determined to bring high-speed internet access to all of Ohio, CWA's District 4 has helped launch a private-public partnership in the state that will identify underserved areas and build coalitions to attract investment. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced the program, called Connect Ohio, this week at a news conference attended by CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen, as well as members of the telecom industry.

"The digital divide in Ohio takes many forms – from lack of access to computers and broadband services to a lack of technological skills necessary for the jobs of the future," Strickland said. "The goal of Connect Ohio is to create customized support for local communities to meet their individual technological needs while helping expand broadband service to all residents and businesses." Rosen said Connect Ohio embodies the goals of CWA's Speed Matters campaign. "It is a realistic, practical way to work to get high-speed networks to every single citizen," he said. "We do that by identifying where the need is and then start the real work of building a network, community by community."

Rosen's office and CWA leaders around the state, including Frank Matthews, president of the CWA Ohio State Council, started talking with Strickland about high-speed internet during his campaign for governor in 2006. In July, Strickland signed a statewide video franchising bill that encourages broadband investment, but not necessarily in all areas, Rosen said. To expand coverage, CWA pushed for Connect Ohio, a program modeled on a similar project in Kentucky.

The program will map the state by the access neighborhoods and communities have to high-speed internet service. Once the gaps are identified, CWA will be especially involved in working in those areas to build coalitions with other unions, business, government and higher education to show telecom companies that there is interest. "We'll be helping to bring together groups of people from different entities in a coordinated way to make it more worthwhile for companies to invest," Rosen said. Rosen hopes Connect Ohio, like Connect Kentucky, will serve as a model for other states.

"Connect Ohio is a tremendous achievement already and its success will be life-changing for residents in rural areas and inner cities that don't have high-speed internet access," Cohen said. "This is precisely what we want Speed Matters to do in every state in the country."

( categories: OHIO | State Franchises )