Thursday, October 14, 2021
The Fruit Belt encompasses a 200-year-old community rich in vegetation and culture on the east side of Buffalo. Fruit Belt residents are long-time inhabitants of the area, with families averaging 50 years in their homes. Through a strong sense of community and self-sufficiency, the region continues to grow and build strong institutions dedicated to communal support and preservation of cultural heritage. However, despite its historic and cultural significance, the Fruit Belt struggles with access to reliable high-speed internet.
The Project OVERCOME pilot in Buffalo will provide equitable broadband access, enabling community members to engage with educational, telehealth, and government services. These services have been unattainable due to high internet costs and digital redlining. As part of the project, four Long-Term Evolution (LTE) antennas are being installed on top of the Buffalo General Medical Center (BGMC). These antennas will broadcast signals to the Fruit Belt using the newly available Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum. Customer premise equipment (CPEs) and Wi-Fi access points will be installed at participants’ houses to catch the LTE signal and create a Wi-Fi network for home internet access. Through the installation of the LTE antennas, up to 140 households are projected to gain broadband service, with potentially hundreds more coming online in the near future.
The University at Buffalo, Mission: Ignite, and Community Tech NY are leading this deployment guided by the vision of (1) providing high-speed internet access as an essential service that is community-rooted, planned, and resourced; (2) creating sustainable programming; and (3) securing additional funding to develop an asset-based approach model for a community-led Internet platform. Via Project OVERCOME, the team wants to raise awareness among community stakeholders that mature technologies already exist and can be valid solutions for improving digital inequities. After the deployment, the team wants to work with the City of Buffalo to replicate this model in other areas of the city.
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US Ignite is accelerating the smart community movement – and creating value for an entire ecosystem – by guiding communities into the connected future, creating a path for private sector growth, and advancing technology research that’s at the heart of smart city development. Project OVERCOME is delivering broadband services to the underserved and unserved populations in seven communities. The project is led by US Ignite with financial support from the National Science Foundation and Schmidt Futures.
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy – rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity – has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.
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