CYC has learned that AT&T is quietly building out its gigabit fiber broadband network in the same East Side and Near West Side Cleveland neighborhoods that historically suffered from the company’s practice of “digital redlining”.
This welcome development is an important sign that Cleveland’s lower-income communities may not face a new round of digital redlining, after all.
New fiber lines have recently proliferated on AT&T’s poles in Fairfax, Hough, Glenville and other areas of the city’s northeast side. Driving through Fairfax and along East 79th, St. Clair and East 105th St. this afternoon, CYC saw newly installed fiber everywhere, on both main and side streets.
A source close to AT&T confirms that these new lines are part of a large-scale gigabit fiber deployment that will support both AT&T Fiber and 5G wireless services in areas served by four Cleveland “central offices” (aka COs or wirecenters) that were bypassed in the company’s last big broadband technology buildout — the 2008-2014 deployment of “fiber to the neighborhood” for fast Internet and video services.
Those four COs, located at 6513 Guthrie, 5400 Prospect, 2130 East 107th, and 12223 St. Clair, provide AT&T service to households and businesses in most of the city’s northeast side and several West side neighborhoods as well. Their service areas include a majority of the city’s high-poverty Census tracts.
For the past decade, households in these redlined central office areas have been relegated to AT&T’s old, slow all-copper ADSL2 service, resulting in uneven, often severely limited Internet access – in many cases 3 Mbps down or less. Meanwhile, consumers in better-off neighborhoods and suburbs have grown accustomed to paying similar bills for “normal” download speeds of 50, 80, or 100 Mbps… and now can enjoy 300, 500, or 1,000 Mbps via fiber to their homes.
Since CYC and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance first revealed AT&T’s digital redlining in a March 2017 report, we’ve repeatedly made the point that AT&T could cure this glaring inequity simply by extending its mainstream network to the central offices and neighborhoods that were skipped between 2008 and 2014.
It now seems someone at AT&T may have taken that point to heart.
Stay tuned for more information as we get it.