FILE - Broadband internet, ethernet, high-speed internet

(The Center Square) – A public-private partnership between several organizations and the state of Ohio has taken aim at eliminating internet service issues in the Cleveland area.

While broadband concerns have risen sharply over the past year with working from home and online schools exploding during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the focus has been on rural areas. However, the city of East Cleveland has its own concerns.

“East Cleveland, like many other urban and rural communities, has lacked both the infrastructure and access to low-cost broadband for many residents,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. “This new project plans to provide both infrastructure and access for up to 2,000 families. All of the partners in the public-private partnership have come together to bring access to high-speed internet for families throughout East Cleveland.”

The partnership includes public entities such as Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga County, East Cleveland City Schools, Innovate Ohio and University Hospitals, along with private groups Eaton Corp., GE Lighting, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Microsoft, OARnet, PCs for People and the Urban League of Cleveland.

The expectation is for the project to connect more than 1,000 households in its first phase with the hopes of adding another 1,000. East Cleveland households will pay $15 a month for high-speed internet.

The first antenna tower has been activated on the roof of Mayfair Elementary School. More tower sites are expected to go live in the coming months.

“The generosity of so many has fueled our efforts to provide discounted computers and first-class internet to families and individuals with limited budgets,” said Bryan Mauk, executive director of PCs for People. “East Cleveland families with remote leaners and workers, those looking for employment and seniors who require e-health services will now be able to access the services they need at a price they can afford.”

The pilot program includes $650,000 from Broadband Ohio and the private entities. More money is expected in the future.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.