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7/28/2020, Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband – COVID-19 Response

“We believe that the City Council should approve the funding for this study. While we are sensitive to the events of COVID-19, we believe there is no better illustration for the need of this study than the societal changes occurring due to COVID-19. ” 

The opinions of fellow citizens are important to us. Please share your thoughts by contacting us.

Support us? Please offer your own thoughts via email to Cleveland Heights City Council.

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Sent 7/28/2020.

Dear Cleveland Heights City Council,

We were informed by Tanisha Briley on 5/28 that funding for the RFP for the Municipal Broadband study was put on hold due to COVID-19 budget constraints. 

We believe that the City Council should approve the funding for this study. While we are sensitive to the events of COVID-19, we believe there is no better illustration for the need of this study than the societal changes occurring due to COVID-19. 

The CH-UH City School District Draft Reopening Plan, presented during the 7/7 CHUH Board of Education meeting, identifies a technology goal on slide 34: “Goal: Eliminate barriers for student success, while advancing digital equity in CH-UH”. 

According to personal communication on 7/9 with CHUH Board of Education President James Posch, when asked about data collected about COVID-19 Internet inequities across our city, Mr. Posch responded “The core statistic I *think* you’re looking for is 95.8% of our families have told us they have ‘reliable wifi access’.  This is from our survey where 2/3 of families responded.  I’m VERY worried about the 1/3 of families who haven’t responded to the survey.  Our admin team says we’re getting hotspots for the balance of families that need them.“

This cleveland.com article mentions13.58% of Cleveland Heights homes are lacking Internet. We have also heard anecdotal evidence that faculty experienced a significant drop in class attendance over teleschool platforms.

Furthermore, we feel the city’s response to Internet access during COVID-19, while generous in spirit, was void of a practical solution. The CH/UH Educational Services Team suggests In addition, the Heights Libraries welcome families to use their library parking lots to connect to free WiFi.” We fail to comprehend how a family can use their car, parked in a Library parking lot, to service the career needs of parents and the academic needs of their children in any meaningful, ergonomically sound, or otherwise productive manner.   

Digital equity is a preeminent theme of Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband. COVID-19 has convinced us that there is no better time to invest in the Municipal Broadband study, and we ask city council to please pass a resolution to fund this initiative. 

If the council’s decision is to not move forward, and the council does not share our level of appreciation for the timeliness of this initiative at this time, we please request a written explanation as to the specific decision(s) that delay this initiative so we can better understand your conclusions. 

Thank you,

Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband

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8/2/2019, RFP published, up for public bidding!

City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio – City Hall has publicly released the RFP for the Cleveland Heights Broadband Master Plan study.

We are very happy with the RFP. We thank CH in listening to and being cooperative with our citizens group, and for including language to the RFP satisfying the requirements crafted by Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband. In specific, thank you to the extensive resources committed by Tanisha Briley, Jim Lambdin, Mike Ungar, and Melissa Yasinow.

Public bidding is now open for those specialize in Broadband Master Planning. While we have little say in the vendor selection process, Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband will be closely monitoring the vendors in trying to identify bidding by shill companies supported by private broadband industry lobbying.

https://www.clevelandheights.com/…/…/CH-Broadband-RFP-Study…

Lastly – Spectrum is already lobbying against this effort. Surely ATT is right behind. They have specifically targeted the attention of city council already, advising them against this study. We expect these actions, and every adversarial step they take against us only emboldens our vision and validates our work.

The hard work has just begun.

10/22/2018, Cleveland Heights Safety and Municipal Services Committee: “Staff’s recommendation is to proceed with feasibility study.”

OUR CURRENT GOAL IS TO HELP THE CITY GENERATE A REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP).

The City of Cleveland Heights has agreed to conduct a broadband feasibility study, otherwise known in industry as a “Broadband Master Plan”. The city has committed to proceed with creating an RFP for the study, bidding to industry professionals, and executing the work. The cost estimate of $50,000-$85,000 will be funded in full or in part using the city’s Local Programming Fund. University Heights is being considered for inclusion as well. Leaders from both cities are in conversation to determine if cost sharing this study is desirable.

Citizens for Heights Municipal Broadband will be helping the city/cities in crafting the RFP.

Bidding the RFP is expected to begin Q1, 2019.

A similar study was conducted by Shaker Heights and Hudson.

How Can I Help?

  • Contact us using the form below to express your opinions and ideas about this project.
  • Consider sending a friendly email to Cleveland Heights City Council in support of this initiative: clevelandheightscouncil@clvhts.com
  • Share this website with neighbors.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What Will Be In The Feasibility Study?

The feasibility analysis will be conducted to meet the following requirements:

  • A municipal fiber network to provide Internet access to all residential, commercial and industrial premises in Cleveland Heights at speeds capable of a least 1 Gigabit per Second (1 Gbps), with the capacity to increase in the future as the definition of high speed or broadband changes.
  • Analysis to include an approach to financing and operating the fiber network limited to public development and ownership.

Cost Estimates must include:

  • Hard and soft costs related to construction, including permitting and environmental review.
  • The cost of operating and maintaining the network.

Potential financing sources are to be identified including but not limited to:

  • The City issuing bonds.
  • State and federal grants.
  • Philanthropic contributions.
  • Retail bonds to allow buy-in from residents.

The final report must provide an analysis of fiber network implementation in other cities and an assessment of the socioeconomic benefits of low-cost access to the Internet through fiber networks. Read the reports conducted by Shaker Heights and Hudson.

Why Revenue Neutral?

By removing the profit motive and having a public utility, a not-for-profit municipal broadband service:

  • May results in lowering ISP subscription fees for customers.
    • Excess revenue, after operating costs, is offset by lowering price.
  • Ensures maintenance of the utility’s architecture is not threatened by cost of non-related city projects.
  • Cannot be used as a strategy to fund other capital projects, or pad the general fund.
  • Provides equitable internet access for everyone in our community.
    • Khan Academy and other online learning tools for children at home after school.
    • Telecommuting jobs.
  • Helps safeguard privacy and internet neutrality.

These benefits may indirectly support:

  • Attracting new businesses and strengthen existing ones.
  • Attracting and retaining residents.
  • Supporting principles of a free and democratic society.
  • Could be used by public services, such as the school system, the library system, and police and fire departments.

Who Else is Doing This?

There are many successful rollouts in other municipalities. Services were built and maintained using public funds, run as utilities, and attract large buy-in from residents and businesses. Below are just a few examples: