Affordable Broadband finally accessible to 225 households in nation’s worst connected city
CLEVELAND, OH (October 11, 2021) – Today DigitalC in partnership with Millennia Housing Management launched the much anticipated OVERCOME 21: Project Empower. It was made possible through support and funding from US Ignite and the National Science Foundation (Award # CNS-2044448).
Announced in March, this award is now finally making affordable high-speed internet easily accessible to 225 households residing in Lexington Village, which is an apartment complex located in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood. Additional support for the project is being provided by Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cuyahoga County, MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Public Library, and Case Western Reserve University, among others.
“Connection to broadband alone will not bridge Cleveland’s digital divide,” said Dorothy Baunach, CEO. “Which is why we are recruiting and partnering with some of the brightest organizations, both nationally and at home, to take our city from worst to first in broadband access.”
Cleveland is ranked as having the highest percentage of households without broadband internet accounts of any of the 80 U.S. cities with 100,000 or more households, according to 2019 data released by the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. Nearly 80,000 Cleveland households reported not having a wireline broadband connection (cable, fiber optic or DSL). Additionally, almost 53,000 households — 31% of the city’s total — lacked broadband subscriptions at any speed, including mobile data plans.
"Cleveland is our vanguard community on the millimeter wave frontier and that technology promises to provide fiber speeds on wireless networks. Gaining a better understanding of these technologies increases our agility in serving smart communities across the U.S." Lee Davenport, Director of Community Development, US Ignite
DigitalC was selected as a Project OVERCOME grant recipient in March 2021. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) conceived of and provided $2.25 million in funding for the project. The Project OVERCOME grant provided awards to seven communities in an effort designed to connect the unconnected through novel broadband technology solutions.With these funds, DigitalC will deploy millimeter wave (mmWave) technology with wireless equipment from Siklu installed on rooftops to create a mesh network that will serve to connect the residents of Lexington Village.
“Our Project OVERCOME pilots aim to increase our understanding of different connectivity solutions that can quickly bring the Internet to underserved and unserved areas,” shared Lee Davenport, Director of Community Development at US Ignite. “Cleveland is our vanguard community on the millimeter wave (mmWave) frontier and that technology promises to provide fiber speeds on wireless networks. Gaining a better understanding of these technologies increases our agility in serving smart communities across the U.S.”
Through Project OVERCOME, ten Lexington Village households have now joined DigitalC’s wireless internet service network, EmpowerCLE. By mid-December a total of 225 households in Lexington Village are expected to have access to high-speed internet. EmpowerCLE has grown quickly since its 2019 launch and today provides affordable broadband to nearly 1,200 households in Cleveland’s Central, Clark-Fulton, Fairfax, Hough, Glenville, and Woodhill-Buckeye neighborhoods.
In July, DigitalC shared its 18-month plan to make EmpowerCLE available in every Cleveland neighborhood when it announced a $20 million donation was jointly made by The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Supporting Foundation and the David and Inez Myers Foundation. The 18-month plan requires an additional $50 million to complete. DigitalC and the Mandel and Myers foundations anticipate the participation of public funds when closing this gap.
DigitalC’s is a non-profit with the mission to bridge Cleveland’s digital divide by connecting unconnected residents and by partnering with others that have a similar mission, yet those that can provide any needed digital devices and digital literacy training. With its Wireless Internet Service Provider, EmpowerCLE, DigitalC is now executing an 18-month plan to provide access to affordable broadband service throughout Cleveland. For more information, visit: www.digitalc.org or www.empowercle.org
About US Ignite:
US Ignite is a high‐tech nonprofit with a mission to accelerate the smart community movement. Our public-private partnership programs leverage advanced networking and data science to drive key outcomes for communities. Our work also enables new opportunities for wireless and IoT research designed to help narrow the gap between cutting‐edge experimentation and scalable, real‐world technology deployments. For more information, visit: www.us-ignite.org