DETROIT – The city of Detroit is addressing digital equity with a new $10 million fiber-optic pilot project.
The Hope Village neighborhood is located between the Lodge and Davison Freeways.
Last September, the neighborhood experienced a devastating internet outage.
“The two days became two weeks became four weeks became six weeks,” said Jeffrey Jones, who lives in the neighborhood.
The outage lasted 45 days and included phone services too.
“I have a school-aged daughter, and so she was at home on school virtually, using my cell phone, burning up my data,” said Jones. “So it became an extra bill and a challenge for people.”
The city of Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion Joshua Edmonds said having the pilot project in Hope Village is a direct response to what happened.
“Digital equity for us is a commitment to residents who historically have been on the wrong side of the digital divide. So this isn’t something where we look at last year or the past five years,” said Edmonds. “This is a historic understanding that we want to be able to reach residents where they are and where they have been and giving them that advantage to be able to say, ‘This is fiber optic internet, the fastest internet in the country.’ We want to make sure you’re prioritized instead of us going to other places and cities such as a downtown and midtown first.”
The city will install the fiber. From there, more internet providers can opt in to offer service.
“If we go from having a duopoly here on the home internet experience between Comcast and AT&T, we are now opening that up, or we’re now allowing for more private providers to provide service in Detroit,” said Edmonds. “And so that then allows us to be able to say we can now have competition here that can lower costs and increase our customer service experience for Detroit residents.”
It’s an exciting new chapter for residents like Jones.
“For decades now, we’ve been the victims of disinvestment. And so to see the city leaders come in and say we’re going to invest $10 million in your neighborhood, bringing you not the second-best technology but the fastest internet for our neighbors, you just can’t put that into words.”
Thursday, Connect 313 hosted multiple forums to update the community on the project and answer questions.