CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - City leaders unveiled a partnership with Cincinnati Bell Friday that will bring free Wi-Fi to downtown Cincinnati along the 3.6-mile streetcar route and adjacent areas.
The new alliance will provide a “Smart Cincy” vision that they say will ignite economic growth, improve public safety, power more efficient government, and bridge the digital divide through the proliferation of ubiquitous, high-speed broadband Internet access.
Details about the partnership were announced Friday morning during a press conference at Anderson Pavilion at The Banks, which is within that “free Wi-Fi” zone.
“The future is coming at us fast,” said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who chairs City Council’s Education, Innovation and Growth Committee, which oversees involvement in Cincinnati’s innovation ecosystem.
“Our new signature Smart Cities partnership with Cincinnati Bell will help keep us on the cutting-edge as a dynamic, connected, tech-embracing community.”
City officials requested proposals for the “Deployment of Wi-Fi and/or Wireline Broadband Systems Throughout the City of Cincinnati: Smart Cities Initiative Phase 1” in January 2018.
The purpose of this RFP was to identify the most advantageous proposals, from the most qualified respondents, to build, operate, and maintain one or more broadband networks in a public-private partnership with the City.
The city ultimately selected Cincinnati Bell, which has already invested approximately $1 billion into its Greater Cincinnati fiber network that spans more than 10,900 route miles and supports wired and wireless high-speed Internet to businesses and consumers across the region.
The technology company also has deep expertise in helping organizations of all sizes leverage cloud-based services and applications that drive innovation and efficiencies. Cincinnati Bell will leverage this unique expertise to help the City realize its vision.
“Technology is the great equalizer in many ways, so being able to help eliminate the digital divide is a great thing for our residents and an important move in the right direction for Cincinnati,” Mayor John Cranley said.
“The city looks forward to this partnership with Cincinnati Bell as we know it will help create a better, more competitive, and smarter Cincinnati.”
In its Phase 1 response, Cincinnati Bell detailed plans to deliver its Wi-Fi solution using approximately 155 fiber-fed access points, existing small cell solutions, and a combination of public and private infrastructure assets. This solution will complement Cincinnati Bell’s existing high-speed, fiber-fed public Wi-Fi network at 14 iconic locations in Greater Cincinnati that is supported by more than 600 wireless access points.
“Cincinnati Bell is honored to be chosen as the City’s partner on this critical initiative that will help close the digital divide, drive economic development, and allow Cincinnati to build on its status as a world-class city,” said Leigh Fox, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Bell.
“We have the technical expertise to build networks that support high-speed Internet, and the internal resources and experience to help the city maximize this powerful asset through our well-established and collaborative relationship.”
As part of the comprehensive effort to transform Cincinnati into a smarter city, the city also is in the process of installing a new ‘fiber ring’ around the entire Central Business District.
The fiber project and “Smart Cities Initiative Phase 1” lay the groundwork for a local smart-city grid that will enable the City to take part in a variety of opportunities that will benefit residents, businesses and visitors.
This includes creating additional opportunities for private businesses to utilize the grid, as well as enabling possible future ‘smart’ innovations such as connected and/or autonomous vehicles, trash cans that alert the city when they are full, and traffic lights that manage vehicles in real time to improve Cincinnati’s overall economic competitiveness.
“We are positioning Cincinnati to be a true City of the Future,” said Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney. “These types of next-gen endeavors are vital to Cincinnati as it continues to grow, develop and compete for potential residents and businesses.”