Jan 11, 2024 - News

Ohio invests $10 million in Cleveland broadband expansion

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at a wooden lectern with the seal of Ohio on the front.

DeWine speaks at the Midtown Tech Hive on Tuesday. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday announced a $10 million grant from the state's BroadbandOhio program to help accelerate access to high-speed, low-cost internet in Cleveland.

Why it matters: Roughly a third of the city's 170,000 households don't have home internet access, limiting residents' ability to participate in modern life — from virtual doctor appointments to online shopping to remote work and schooling.

What's happening: Coupled with $20 million allocated by Cleveland City Council and $20 million from the Mandel and Myers foundations, the state funding will help the nonprofit DigitalC build out its wireless infrastructure over the next 18 months.

  • Once complete, every household in Cleveland will be able to purchase DigitalC's internet for $18 per month.

Between the lines: DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted stressed at a press conference Tuesday that internet affordability is just as important as access.

  • That's why the $18 monthly rate will be locked in for at least five years, with potential upward adjustments for inflation thereafter.

What they're saying: "It's not discount technology," said DigitalC CEO Joshua Edmonds. "It's 18 dollars a month, because we're making it 18 dollars a month."

Details: The network upload and download speeds are guaranteed to be at least 100 megabytes per second.

  • That's significantly faster than the federally recognized definition of high speed, which is a download speed of 25 megabits per second.
  • "That's seven times the speed Netflix recommends [for streaming]," Mayor Justin Bibb said Tuesday.

The intrigue: Cleveland City Council allocated its pandemic stimulus funding to DigitalC with significant strings attached. The nonprofit will have to sign up at least 23,500 households and train 50,000 residents in digital literacy over the next four years to get paid in full.

  • A DigitalC spokesperson told Axios it has roughly 2,000 subscribers on its legacy network — the same as when we last reported on DigitalC in May — but hopes to add 3,500 on its new network in 2024.

What's next: DigitalC will expand across the city in three phases with completion estimated to be in 18 months.

  • "You can hold me to it," he said.

Interested in signing up? Residents can get on DigitalC's waitlist by calling 216-777-3859 or by visiting DigitalC.org.

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