Residents of Cleveland’s Central District are getting a ‘boost’ in internet access

CLEVELAND, OH — Residents of Cleveland’s Central District can begin high-speed Internet access this month, as part of an initiative to increase broadband service in Cuyahoga County.

The first phase of the “Central Neighborhood Surge” began over the weekend, connecting 300 households. Another 200 homes will go live in April.

Residents interested in signing up for the $18 per month service should contact the EmpowerCLE+ provider at 216-777-3859. Subsidies are available to cover the monthly cost for customers.

Those who sign up for a Cleveland Public Library card can also receive free internet through June 30, as long as they don’t receive any other internet subsidies.

“Having access to affordable high-speed internet can change the lives of our residents,” County Executive Armond Budish said in a news release on Tuesday. “This facility is one facet of our larger ‘overload’ effort in the Central District and can have a huge impact on access to opportunities primarily available through the internet.”

Budish first announced plans for the ‘Neighborhood Surge’ pilot program in May, pledging to focus funding in some of the county’s poorest communities – starting with the Central Ward – to help residents thrive. . Internet connectivity was one goal of a longer list of support systems, which also included job creation, financial literacy, development, road improvements and tree planting.

More than half of Central’s 4,726 households are unconnected, according to county estimates. The neighborhood has the lowest median neighborhood income in the county, at just over $10,000 per household.

The broadband project is funded through a partnership between the county, the library, and DigitalC, a nonprofit organization whose wireless internet service provider, EmpowerCLE+, has already served 55 customers in the Central Ward since 2020. It connects 1 100 other customers in the Clark -Fulton, Fairfax, Glenville, Hough and Woodhill-Buckeye neighborhoods.

The county and the library each invested $330,000. DigitalC funds the remaining cost.

In addition to Internet access, the program also provides modems and other wireless equipment, some devices, and digital literacy training.

“Our partnership with Cuyahoga County and DigitalC will enable families to survive in a world that is increasingly dependent on digital platforms,” ​​said Felton Thomas, Jr., executive director and CEO of the Cleveland Public Library. “We strongly believe this initiative will help Cleveland residents keep pace in a rapidly changing environment.”

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