Building Digital Equity, One Connection at a Time

It may come as a surprise to many, but Internet isn’t a given. Despite countless digital touchpoints and the omnipresence of Internet culture, nearly 20 million Americans don’t have access to high-speed Internet.

The chasm between the technological haves and have-nots has been a central focus for governments, communities and NGOs alike. Living without the Internet is a major disadvantage in today’s tech-first society. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become an even more glaring issue as education and work transitioned to an online environment. For those without the right digital resources and connection, they get left behind.

Internet access is a gateway to a stronger economy, a boon of educational resources and the pathway to a more seamless and connected health care system. And that’s just the beginning. To get there, we must expand access and capabilities through digital equity.

What digital equity means to us

For Cincinnati Bell a more digitally equitable future is imperative. The future we see:

  • Increases the availability of high-speed public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Provides access to computer devices.
  • Includes investments in digital readiness.

Digital equity wouldn’t just change the lives of individuals, it could change society.  It’s not a future we’re simply imagining either, it’s a future we’re investing in.

Our investments to advance digital equity

In the past 24 months, we’ve poured $250 million into public-private partnerships to help expand access in local communities. Through such a partnership, we provided Internet access to the Village of Lockland and the Lockland Local School District. In Boone County, expanded access has become a priority for local government, and Cincinnati Bell is projected to connect nearly 40,000 homes to broadband Internet. We’ve also partnered with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) to bring free high-speed Internet to more than 1,200 residents living in CMHA properties. Furthermore, we partnered with Butler Rural Electric Cooperative to expand its fiber network to deliver high-speed Fioptics Internet to the service territory. We also partnered with the Oregon District by donating infrastructure, Wi-Fi and equipment for the district.

We’re facing a monumental task, but it’s one we’re working towards boldly.

How businesses can help

There are ways other businesses can help.

Companies can aid in financing Internet access or providing technology (such as computers and hotspots) to employees and interns, particularly as working-from-home remains a critical component of modern employment. Businesses can also evaluate their own values and make it a point to help those in their community by implementing digital equity initiatives. Even purchasing your Internet from Cincinnati Bell makes an impact, since part of your money is being invested into the community around you.

We won’t solve this tomorrow, but each and every day we get closer and closer to closing the gap. And we won’t stop until everyone is connected.

Connect with us now and learn more.

Infrastructure Bill Paves Way for Expanded Internet

The passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021 has the potential to connect millions of Americans far beyond the conventional methods of infrastructure (roads, highways and bridges). With more than $50 billion dedicated to expanding broadband Internet access, it’ll also be connecting them to the worldwide web.

Roughly 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure to provide minimally acceptable speeds. The vast majority of these areas are situated in rural parts of the country. Additionally, low-income residents across all regions can’t get quality access simply due to a lack of financial resources. This means millions miss out on economic opportunity, educational options and healthcare access.

How the Infrastructure Bill Addresses the Digital Divide

To move the needle on Internet access, the bill is addressing the digital divide head-on with a few different initiatives:

  • $42.5 billion will be used in grants to states for broadband projects, which can range from network development to data collection to determine the areas that lack service.
  • $14.2 billion is resourced to provide $30-a-month vouchers for low-income Americans to pay for Internet services.
  • $2.75 billion is dedicated to digital inclusion and equity projects, such as improving digital literacy and online skills for seniors.

Thanks to this bill, communities like yours have more available funds to invest in Internet initiatives. The funds could help jumpstart a more connected, tech-forward community that can open up a world of economic, educational and public wellbeing opportunities for your residents.

The UniCity Team is Your Partner

The UniCity team at Cincinnati Bell is here to be your partner through it all.  We’ve been investing in expanded Internet access across communities well before this bill ever hit the legislative circuits and are proven leaders in community connectivity. Recently, we’ve:

  • Invested $250 million in public-private partnerships to help expand access to local communities
  • Brought Internet access to Village of Lockland and Lockland School District amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
  • We are projected to connect nearly 4,000 homes to broadband Internet in Boone County, where expanded access is a priority for local government.
  • Partnered with Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) to bring free high-speed Internet to more than 1,200 residents living in CMHA properties.

See how else we’re championing greater connections in our communities. Together, we can reimagine the possibilities for our people and our businesses in the places we call home.


The importance of connectivity within the Oregon District cannot be overstated, Cincinnati Bell’s work with us improves our ability to connect with each other and with the broader Dayton community.

Kyle Babirad
President
Oregon District Business Association

As a result of this partnership, more of our youth will have access to educational tools, and more of our friends and neighbors will have access to training, jobs, and improved healthcare.

Tom Simpson
Chief Operating Officer
Cincinnati Bell

The ‘lighting up’ of our Village via Wi-Fi access will not only help in educating the children of our Village but will also create opportunities for our residents.

Mark Mason Sr.
Mayor
Village of Lockland

Connect with us now.

UniCity Brings Opportunity to Oregon District

Keeping businesses running smoothly is table stakes when it comes to internet connection. At Cincinnati Bell, we believe our Fiber Internet, Intelligent Wi-Fi and UniCity program should go beyond just fast and reliable access — it should open a world of opportunity.

The Problem

A strong, dependable connection has been in hot demand in the Oregon District for some time. For many businesses, internet-based POS failures can hamper the bottom line. The area is also emerging from natural disasters, local tragedy and the global pandemic and needs more peace of mind when running business.

The Solution

Now equipped with Cincinnati Bell’s Intelligent Wi-Fi and Engagement Software Package, these Oregon District businesses know they have a reliable connection for their POS. UniCity also provides data that is key to understanding foot traffic in the area and the types of consumers that are in the vicinity.

The Impact

In the short term, public Wi-Fi helped Oregon District businesses—along with doctor’s offices and schools—navigate the many complications brought on by the pandemic. It also informed businesses how they could rethink their operations. Through the technology, we were able to see there was significant foot traffic on Mondays, a day when many businesses were closed. With this key insight, shops can now capitalize on an opportunity that once existed in a blind spot.

The long-term possibilities of UniCity’s public Wi-Fi could be a boon for Dayton’s economic development. By understanding more about the foot traffic and the types of consumers traversing the area, businesses can continue to optimize and adapt towards better (and more profitable) practices. Public Wi-Fi will also be critical for future growth in the Oregon District and expansion outside the downtown area. It’ll be particularly valuable in the continued development of the Dayton Arcade, The Hub and other forward-thinking initiatives in the area.

We are so incredibly grateful for Cincinnati Bell’s generosity. The importance of connectivity within the Oregon District cannot be overstated, Cincinnati Bell’s work with us improves our ability to connect with each other and with the broader Dayton community.

Kyle Babirad
President
Oregon District Business Association

UniCity Partners with the Housing Authority of Covington to bring Wi-Fi to students, families in need

At Cincinnati Bell, we are proud of our commitment to investing in communities.

As the pandemic hit, the Housing Authority of Covington (HAC) noted an increased need for Internet among their low-income residents. As part of our digital equity initiative, UniCity, we partnered with the HAC to expand Internet access to people who needed it for work, school, healthcare, and more.

The Problem

Internet access became critical for families and students as districts adopted a distance learning model during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond that, Wi-Fi access connects residents to critical community resources like telehealth services and employment information and opportunities.

Our low-income residents are particularly likely to experience service gaps in education, health care, employment and retail due to the digital divide. Our youth experienced disruptions in their schooling and inadequate IT resources to participate in their daily lessons and complete homework assignments. Digital inequality deprives people these critical connections.

Jon Adkins
Director/Resident Services
The Housing Authority of Covington

As schools and businesses began to close, internet access became a necessity, not a luxury.

The Solution

UniCity worked to expand Internet access for HAC residents by creating about 125 Wi-Fi neighborhood access points. We also ran new fiber to neighborhoods that lacked fiber services, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of Covington students.

As part of the initiative, residents of the HAC’s biggest apartment complexes, Latonia Terrace and City Heights, now have access to complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi.

The Impact

Campus-wide Wi-Fi has made “a world of difference” for HAC residents.

HAC houses 545 school-aged children, who now have the resources to attend online classes and complete homework. Adult residents have used the new services to continue college or vocational training programs or to conduct job searches. Beyond education and employment, community members are utilizing the technology for Zoom calls, telehealth services, social media, and more.

This could not have happened without UniCity. Many residents have voiced their new ability to be included in the virtual space as life-changing.

Jon Adkins
Director/Resident Services
The Housing Authority of Covington

The negative impact of the digital divide became painfully apparent when schools closed their doors. But a silver lining emerged — the life-changing online resources that HAC residents can now access thanks to the Housing Authority of Covington and Cincinnati Bell.

The impact of UniCity for residents and their children will be felt not only in education, but also in employment, finance, healthcare, and beyond. 

Campus-wide Wi-Fi will continue to provide a crucial link to information and resources that will not only help stabilize families, but help them on their paths to self-sufficiency and better futures.

Jon Adkins
Director/Resident Services
The Housing Authority of Covington

The time is now. To learn more, connect with your UniCity specialist by filling out the form here or email unicity@cinbell.com.

Steps to becoming the next smart City with UniCity

As you start to hear more and more city’s becoming the next smart city, there is a lot of questions that come to mind how your city can be next. The good news is, UniCity has a dedicated team at Cincinnati Bell to help answer all of these questions and help you get started.  Becoming the next Smart City is easier than you think and now is the perfect time to prioritize your next steps.

This topic is particularly important to Cincinnati Bell because we believe in the power of smart city solutions and emerging technologies to address unprecedented challenges like those faced through the pandemic. Through UniCity, our objective is to leverage our robust fiber network to deliver content, visibility and analytics to municipalities through IoT and Intelligent Wi-Fi. As our cities strive to advance creativity and innovation, equity and civic engagement, smart city technologies can deliver human and virtual connectivity and engagement while also delivering real time data to measure impacts and better understand community trends and needs. We believe that the future of cities and innovation spans cities of all sizes and classes.

With an eye on ethics and progress, Cincinnati Bell is working to build opportunity and solve hard problems through strategic partnerships with the UniCity approach.

The UniCity Approach graphic

What’s next?

Schedule a virtual appointment with the UniCity team to discuss next steps around your landscape and design a solution to best fit your city’s needs. This consultative approach will map out a sustainable financial model to help you fund your smart city build.

In 2020, many communities leveraged funding from the CARES Act to build and sustain UniCity solutions.  With additional coronavirus relief funds coming available and the extended deadline for CARES Act expenditures, it is a great time to get started!


The time is now. To learn more, connect with your UniCity specialist by filling out the form here or email unicity@cinbell.com.