Dane Shryock walked over to a map hanging on the wall of the county commissioners’ office in downtown Coshocton. He ran his finger along a highway to point out directions to a family farm, where he told me I’d find an antenna placed atop a tall blue silo.
“You’re going to want to go straight down 36, turn left on this county road,” Shryock, one of three county commissioners in Coshocton, Ohio, said. “There’s a cemetery on the left, and then you’ll see a big red barn.”
I snapped a photo of the map. The old-school directions were necessary because the address doesn’t exactly show up on Google Maps and, besides, my phone lost all signal after about the third hill on that county road. It was a blistering hot July day in Appalachian Ohio and I was on a mission to see firsthand how rural communities have stopped waiting for Big Telecom to bring high-speed internet to them and have started to build it themselves.
About 19 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, which the Federal Communication Commission defines as offering a minimum of 25 megabits per second download speeds and 3mbps upload speeds. Those who do have broadband access often find it’s too expensive, unreliable, or has prohibitive data caps that make it unusable for modern needs…