CLEVELAND — One of Cleveland’s largest internet service providers announced on Thursday a sizable investment into one of the city’s least connected neighborhoods. Officials from AT&T and the City of Cleveland joined Glenville residents at the Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center to unveil new fiber internet service in the area as well as a new connected learning center.
In addition to providing fiber internet service at the connected learning center, AT&T will have also installed fiber lines that will be available to as many as 300 homes in the surrounding area. The fiber service far and away beats other options in the area in both download and upload speeds, according to FCC broadband maps. The service will also be available at the subsidized price of $30 per month and, in some cases, absolutely free with available federal rebates, AT&T officials said.
With the help of the Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center (ASC3), the new service will provide both access as well as education.
“Our AT&T connected learning centers are designed to address both access and adoption issues. These centers provide high-speed AT&T fiber and WiFi, access to new Dell computers and digital learning resources,” said Molly Kocour Boyle, the president of AT&T Ohio. “we’re here today to announce that we have brought fiber out into the neighborhood and it’s available to over 300 households in this community. We know that you have to have it at the connected learning center. You have to have it at the home. You have to have it where you’re living, working, and staying.”
The new connected learning center features more than a dozen computers, which will be used in conjunction with ASC3’s classes and educational offerings. The center will also be available for students and neighborhood residents needing to access the internet.
“It’s another great day in the neighborhood,” said Wanda Davis, the executive director of ASC3. “With the new fiber and the new WiFi connectivity, we’re ready to have hands-on keyboards. As those hands hit the keyboards that’s when the hope becomes real change.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, which suddenly thrust thousands of CMSD students and their families into a dependency on the internet for remote learning, Cleveland’s digital divide has never been more apparent. Large swaths of the east and west side feature extremely limited internet options. Many of those options don’t feature enough bandwidth to support remote learning, videoconferencing, or telehealth appointments, according to FCC broadband maps.
Ella Redeemer and Mary Bell started attending digital literacy classes at ASC3 more than six years ago. Very rarely will either of them miss a class.
“It was something to get me out of the house. I have learned a lot since I started coming here,” Redeemer said. “I didn’t know anything about computers. When I first came, I really didn’t know anything.”
Bell said she particularly enjoys and appreciates the one-on-one instruction that ASC3 provides.
“When I came I didn’t know how to turn on a computer, anything like that,” Bell said. “I love coming here because everybody is so friendly with each other. Miss Wanda Davis, she works with you one-on-one. If you don’t understand something, they’ll help you until you get what you’re supposed to get out of it.”