The Divide: How UniCity's public Wi-Fi partnerships help connect communities

Today's guest is John Putnam, director of UniCity at Cincinnati Bell, now known as Altafiber.

We discuss Altafiber's smart city division UniCity, how it got started and how it's now using public Wi-Fi to tackle the digital divide and digital equity issues in its service areas in Northern Kentucky, and Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

Here are a few topics discussed in this episode:

  • Background on UniCity (0:50)
  • Where and how UniCity is deploying public Wi-Fi (02:32)
  • How UniCity provides digital training (05:26)
  • Why communities are often "overwhelmed" by these projects (09:34)
  • How UniCity is using smart city tech to address the digital divide and inequality (11:44)
  • How Altafiber and UniCity are using and preparing for federal funds (16:55)

Related stories and links:

— Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host of "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast.

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5/5/2022 |
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The digital divide in North America is leaving millions without adequate broadband. Incumbents operate in “islands” of connectivity, serving densely populated areas and, at a national scale, perpetuating the digital divide in the gaps in between their service footprints. Regional ISPs have a clear role in closing that gap.

These regional ISPs operate in a highly fragmented landscape, including smaller wireless and FTTH incumbents, satellite ISPs, electric co-ops, tribal communities, and municipalities in public/private partnerships. These regional ISPs face the same cyber threats and operational challenges as their Tier 1 counterparts, but with far fewer resources and revenue-generating population density. As a result, many regional ISPs have developed highly innovated business models for access and core technology, partnerships, financing and services.

The discussion will cover:

  • Three ISPs that have taken an innovative approach to their business, as detailed in a recent STL Partners report
  • Why regional ISPs need to double down on core security basics such as DDoS protection
  • How ISPs have created new revenue by offering managed services
  • Core network capabilities required for IPv4-IPv6 management

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