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Cincinnati Bell launching free Wi-Fi along streetcar route

Posted: 12:20 PM, Dec 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-07 17:26:04Z

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bell announced it will provide free Wi-Fi service along the streetcar route.

As the streetcar's chief sponsor, the telecommunication giant's offer should come as little surprise.

Cincinnati Bell officials made the announcement at a news conference Friday at The Banks, during which city leaders met to discuss the  Smart Cincy initiative , which focuses on issues related to connectivity, mobility, cyber-security and sustainability. In January, officials requested proposals for building a broadband network throughout the city, as part of the initiative.

"Technology is the great equalizer in many ways," said Mayor John Cranley in a news release following Friday's conference. "Being able to help eliminate the digital divide is a great thing for our residents."

The streetcar runs a 3.6-mile loop from Rhinegeist Brewery at Elm and Henry streets through Downtown to Great American Ball Park at The Banks. People riding the streetcar and sitting in "adjacent areas" can access the "Smart Cincy Wi-Fi" network by providing their name, email address and date of birth.

Not long after the January request for proposals, the city began construction of a "fiber ring" -- roughly 20,000 feet of new fiber optic underground cable -- around a roughly 60-block perimeter in the Central Business District.

One of the goals in building the fiber ring, then-city manager Harry Black said, was to make wireless internet available throughout Downtown.

In April, Cincinnati Metro announced more than 60 of its vehicles -- 59 standard buses and five Metro Access vehicles -- would begin offering free Wi-Fi. Those buses are distributed throughout various Metro routes.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter ( @pat_laFleur ) and on Facebook.