Cuyahoga County Partners with DigitalC to Bring Affordable, High-Speed Internet Access to Central Neighborhood

Cuyahoga County

Digital Connection Efforts Continue as Broadband Services RFP Closes

Cuyahoga County press release

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH – Cuyahoga County will enter into a contract with non-profit DigitalC to provide affordable, in-home, high-speed broadband services to residents in the Central neighborhood.

This contract will provide for the build-out of wireless internet service infrastructure that will cover approximately 70% of the Central neighborhood and provide equipment for roughly 500 households. This work is part of a wider effort to allocate resources to the Central neighborhood through the County’s Neighborhood Surge Project. This new project is designed to transform the County’s underserved, most in-need communities by concentrating resources in a specific area.

“Over half of the households in the Central neighborhood are without internet access, which is much higher than our County-wide rate of 19 percent,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “Connecting our residents to low-cost, high-speed internet is a crucial part of our efforts to close the digital divide. Together with DigitalC, we are unlocking opportunities for one of the least connected neighborhoods in our region.”

The County is contributing $330,000 to this effort, with additional investments from DigitalC and a grant application for federal funding completed by the Cleveland Public Library bringing the total to over $600,000. Installation work is slated to begin in mid-November.

“The pandemic has proven that Greater Cleveland is not a connected community,” said DigitalC Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Baunach. “However, providing affordable and accessible high-speed internet to our digitally starved Cleveland neighbors and residents can make great change possible for the health of seniors, for the opportunities available to strivers and heads of households, and open varied and wider paths to success for scholars of all ages.”

Cuyahoga County’s work to address the digital divide continued this week as a request for proposal (RFP) for deployment of broadband services closed on September 8. The County received nine proposals to provide solutions across the county in census tracts where more than 20% of the population is unconnected.

“In tandem with our upcoming work in Central, this RFP is going to generate real solutions for residents across Cuyahoga County,” said Chief Information & Performance Officer Catherine Tkachyk. “We’re ready to develop these partnerships and look forward to further partnerships to deploy resources into the community.”

The County will review all submissions, with the goal of partnering on innovative approaches that employ established or emerging technology. Further federal guidance on allocation and use of ARPA funding will also impact the review of RFP submissions and solutions that can be implemented in the community. Final guidance from the US Department of Treasury is expected in the Fall. The County expects to bring forward projects for approval once that guidance has been received.