Ignored By Big Telecom, Detroit's Marginalized Communities Are Building Their Own Internet

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“When you kind of think about all the ways the internet affects your life and how 40 percent of people in Detroit don’t have that access you can start to see how Detroit has been stuck in this economic disparity for such a long time,” said Diana Nucera, director of the Detroit Community Technology Project. Nucera is part of a growing cohort of Detroiters who have started a grassroots movement to close that gap, by building the internet themselves. It’s a coalition of community members and multiple Detroit nonprofits. They’re starting with three underserved neighborhoods, installing high speed internet that beams shared gigabit connections from an antenna on top of the tallest building on the street, and into the homes of people who have long gone without. They call it the Equitable Internet Initiative. The issue isn’t only cost, though it is prohibitive for many Detroiters, but also infrastructure. Because of Detroit’s economic woes, many Big Telecom companies haven’t thought it worthwhile to invest in expanding their network to these communities, Nucera told me. The city is filled with dark fiber optic cable that’s not connected to any homes or businesses—relics from more optimistic days.


Ignored By Big Telecom, Detroit's Marginalized Communities Are Building Their Own Internet