Broadband Communities

JUL 2017

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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16 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | JULY 2017 DIGITAL INCLUSION Connecting the Unconnected A dedicated, high-speed broadband network to connect the unconnected is a game changer for Cleveland. By Lev Gonick / DigitalC R ecently, DigitalC – a civic tech collaboration that partners with the Cleveland community to design technology-driven programs and services – launched Connect the Unconnected with a goal of connecting the 50 percent of Cleveland residents who have no wired broadband access. Nationwide, families in neighborhoods with median household incomes below $34,800 – the lowest fifth of neighborhoods – are five times more likely not to have access to broadband than households in areas with a median income above $80,700 – the top fifth. In Cleveland, the average household salary of the 8,802 families living in public housing is $7,572 per year. Nearly a third of those with housing choice vouchers are working poor. Today, internet access in the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is measured in the hundreds of residents. Cleveland is the third least-connected city in the United States behind Detroit and Brownsville, Texas. Twenty percent of the residents of the Lutheran's Men's Shelter, the largest homeless shelter in Ohio, are returning vets. Without an internet connection, residents can not apply for public housing, a job or a myriad of VA, city and county services. Dr. Adam Perzynski of MetroHealth in Cleveland recently concluded that, after controlling for income and education, broadband access is the single most important social determinant of health and wellness. Students in Cleveland's Metropolitan School District all take a battery of standardized tests online. Seven of 10 teachers assign homework online, yet one in three students has no internet access at home. More than 3,000 children are in some form of foster care or at risk of timing out of support systems provided by the county in Greater Cleveland. Internet access for youth in foster care is rare except for those who enroll in public universities so they can gain shelter instead of sleeping on the street or in a car. is is the other America. More than 47 million in the United States are without internet access – 47 million Americans with real faces, circumstances, hopes and dreams. Nearly a third of African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans do not have internet. Digital equity is the 21st-century civil rights challenge for the United States. It is neither color blind nor independent of class, age, ability or location. A DEDICATED HIGH-SPEED NETWORK ere is no silver bullet, no elixir, no one-size- fits-all solution to connect the unconnected. For the past 15 years, Cleveland has made an intentional effort to design, build, manage and operate its own digital infrastructure. I do not mean the city of Cleveland. DigitalC is a nonprofit spinoff of OneCommunity, which in turn was a rebranding and scaling of OneCleveland, launched in 2003 by a group of civic-minded technology leaders in Cleveland as a catalyst for leveraging technology for community impact. We at OneCommunity spent much of the decade from 2006 to 2016 designing, constructing, managing and operating what became a large regional fiber optic network in Northeast Ohio that

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