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by Sep 20, 2022business

CLEVELAND, Ohio — More than 1,000 Cleveland residents living in public housing have gained access to high-speed, low-cost broadband internet connection.

The project is a partnership between nonprofit DigitalC and Facebook parent company Meta. It is part of DigitalC’s EmpowerCLE+ service, which offers internet speed of up to 50 mbps at $18 per month.

The services are now available at four Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority buildings: Addison Square, Willson Tower, Riverview Tower Apartments and Scranton Castle, according to a Tuesday news release. “Access to affordable and equitable broadband on its own will not lift people out of poverty, but it can empower people to find pathways to better health, education and economic well-being,” said Sharon Jordan, DigitalC’s interim CEO who was recently named as the next president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Cleveland.

Cleveland ranks last in internet connectivity among large, American cities, and boosting the area’s connectivity has been a major focus of city and county officials, especially when it comes to spending American Rescue Plan Act dollars. The Meta partnership is a major step forward for DigitalC, which has struggled in recent years amid competition, technical limitations, leadership transitions and supply-chain issues. Last week, DigitalC announced another $1 million partnership — funded largely by federal grant dollars — with MetroHealth System to bring internet to six separate Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority buildings.

In recent months, DigitalC says it has increased its customer base by triple-digits. The Tuesday news release says DigitalC has connected 1,576 homes since the beginning of the pandemic. In May, that number was closer to 1,200, according to reporting from The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com . Given that each house has just over two people on average, DigitalC estimates it serves 3,467 customers, spokeswoman Susan Valerian said in an email.

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