CLEVELAND — Bridging the digital divide in Ohio has been a long time coming, especially in Cleveland.
“I think if anything, the pandemic is really shown the need,” said Bryan Mauk, Chief Innovation Officer for PC's for People.
Mauk and his team help provide computers, internet access and digital literacy support for those in need.
“The last 18 months, we distributed computers and Internet to serve 25,000 people in Cleveland and over 50% of them never owned a computer before in their lives or households,” he said.
Mauck said most of those households are in pockets of the city that have not been invested in.
Even if they are connected, the quality of their internet access is outdated, Mauck said. He compared the speed compared to what we saw in the 90s and early 2000s. He said it's time for providers to step up and boost their infrastructure as well.
“We've maybe gone five to ten years ahead of consumption while really the infrastructure is maybe 10 years behind where it needs to be,” he said.
Mauk believes the city's $20 million investment into building stronger broadband infrastructure is game-changing. The city is ready to search for vendors to get the job done, and for consultants to help educate city residents. Mauck said awareness will be key to making sure households are open to a new way of connectivity.
“There's so many examples of how people can be happier, healthier and more economically prosperous through this type of infrastructure bill," Mauck said.
In addition the $20 million allocations, the city says it will need help to finish the job.