When it comes to broadband accessibility, Union County has some catching up to do.
Neighboring Franklin County has a 99.97 percent availability rate, according to recent statistics compiled by the not-for-profit agency Connect Ohio.
Delaware County has a 99.12 percent rate. High-speed Internet access is even available to 99.74 percent of Champaign County residents. Yet only 89.4 percent of Union County residents have access to broadband.
So it really didn't come as a surprise to Mill Creek Township trustees when a survey they sent out to residents asking for input about their most pressing concerns included several complaints about the lack of broadband service.
Upon further study, the trustees discovered that nearly 600 township homes and businesses were either unserved or underserved by high-speed Internet.
That's when trustee Keith Conroy reached out to Connect Ohio and requested a list of nearby Internet providers. He was subsequently directed to Celerity Networks, a subsidiary of Slane Telcom, which already had 40 customers in the area.
Celerity quickly expanded and upgraded its high-speed presence in the township in early November.
"We estimate that current township coverage is at 30 to 35 percent," Slane President John O'Connor said. "We have already started looking for repeater sites to spread the point-to-fixed-point wireless network to the rest of the township.
"Celerity Networks will continue to expand its coverage footprint, along with its affiliate company, Hardin-Net, which operates to the north of Celerity Networks."
Conroy said high-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury but a necessity for many Mill Creek residents.
"It is critical that residents have broadband access across Millcreek Township," he said. "In today's world, it is required for nearly every working adult to have access to high-speed Internet."
And not only adults.
"Students from elementary to high school need to be connected to school for study guides, critical research, online quizzes, and take-home tests,"he added. "The demand for high-speed Internet is only growing, as it is no longer just used by one computer in a household, but multiple computers, smartphones, entertainment and medical instruments."
Jocelin Boutet of Ostrander said recently received high-speed Internet service from Celerity Networks. She works from home and her only option for Internet prior to the Celerity Network expansion was a mobile wireless air card.
"I couldn't even get to 1 Mbps with the air card or stream video," she said. "When I was on GoTo Meetings, I could watch the PowerPoint, but couldn't connect to audio or voice. I made it work, but I can do so much more now."
For the same monthly cost, Boutet says she now has Internet speeds of 6 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload and is able to manage her nonprofit financial and relationship ministry, Standing in YHVH's Hand, more efficiently.
"I'm very pleased Celerity Networks moved into the area," said Boutet.