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Cuyahoga County secures partnership to expand high-speed internet access in Cleveland's Central neighborhood

The county government will team up with the Cleveland Public Library and local non-profit DigitalC to invest more than $660,000 in the area.

CLEVELAND — *EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is from a previous story.

Citizens of Cleveland's Central neighborhood will soon have more access to high-speed internet, with Cuyahoga County on Tuesday announcing a partnership that will expand broadband services in the area.

The county government will team with both the Cleveland Public Library and local technology non-profit DigitalC to invest more than $660,000 in the neighborhood. Phase one of the "Central Neighborhood Surge" project began this past Saturday, and once phase two is completed in April, more than 500 new households will be equipped with modems and other essential wireless equipment.

"Having access to affordable, high-speed internet can change the lives of our residents," Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said in a statement. "This installation is one facet of our larger 'surge' effort in the Central neighborhood and can have a tremendous impact on access to opportunities primarily available through the internet."

The county and library will each pay for almost half the cost, with DigitalC contributing the rest. Services will cost $18 a month, with subsidies available to cover the price, if needed.

According to officials, the Central neighborhood is the poorest in the county with a median household income of just over $10,000. In addition, more than half of those 4,726 households have no internet access, something DigitalC has tried to alleviate since 2020 with its EmpowerCLE+ service provider. Currently, 55 homes in Central are connected to the internet via EmpowerCLE+.

"Bridging Cleveland's digital divide relies on the combined efforts of so many, and we are grateful for Cuyahoga County’s leadership and support," DigitalC Chief Executive Dorothy Baunach wrote Tuesday.

The Cleveland Public Library received its share of funding through the FCC's Emergency Connectivity Fund, one of 512 library systems in the country that secured a grant. Due to the library's role in the arrangement, those who sign up for library cards will receive internet services at no cost through June 30, provided they are receiving no other internet subsidies.

"Our partnership with Cuyahoga County and DigitalC will allow families to survive in a world that is becoming more reliant on digital platforms," Felton Thomas Jr., executive director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library, said." We strongly believe this initiative will help Clevelanders keep up in a rapidly changing environment."

Besides internet access itself, residents will also have select digital devices and training at their disposal. While services are not available just yet, those in the neighborhood can sign up early by calling (216) 777-3859.