Cleveland, Ohio neighborhood deploys large outdoor free Wi-Fi network

After a year of installation and testing, Old Brooklyn Connected, is up and running. It is an outdoor Wi-Fi network that delivers Wi-Fi service to Ward 13, a neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. One of the goals of this community development is to bridge the digital divide. Just as importantly, users of smartphones and tablets can now access the Internet outdoors in Ward 13.

“This project is more than about providing free Internet service to the people of my ward,” said Councilman Kevin J. Kelley.  “This project is about giving our children an advantage; it is about providing opportunity to every resident in this ward.  We are creating the most connected community in America.  We are closing the digital divide and providing access to information, knowledge, and opportunity.  Old Brooklyn is sending a message to the world that we are open and welcoming to families and small businesses.”

Old Brooklyn Connected by the numbers:

  • 4.5 square miles of Cleveland’s Ward 13
  • 11,000 households and more than 300 businesses
  • Cost of $ 1.3 million dollars for a five-year period.  An average cost of $1.91 per household/business per month over the five year span.
  • Serves more than 700 unique devices each day with more than 200 gigabytes of daily internet traffic.  Usage is growing at about 20 percent per month
  • 220 access points installed and 250 wireless radios interconnecting the access points and providing backhaul to seven fiber locations in Old Brooklyn
  • Uses wireless equipment made by Ubiquiti, deployed and tested by Novarum (see the 2010 paper written by Ken Biba of Novarum entitled Guidelines For Successful, Large Outdoor Wi-Fi Networks)
  • Average upload speed of 2 Mbps and download speed of 5 Mbps

Education outreach by Connect Your Community:

  • Nine free courses (25 hours each) at locations in Old Brooklyn
  • 118 students graduated
  • 76 report they use the Old Brooklyn Wi-Fi as their primary connection
  • 80 received a free computer and  38 purchased  an upgraded, refurbished computer
  • Three additional courses are running this fall with 22 students set to graduate by Thanksgiving

Old Brooklyn Connected is a website that all users of Old Brooklyn Wi-Fi are automatically connected to once they connect. The web site is a dynamic community portal which serves as a gateway to Old Brooklyn with local news and an abundance of information about schools, recreation, businesses, housing, and the overall services of Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation. The CDC also manages this web site.

Old Brooklyn Connected statistics:

  • More than 35,000 visits
  • 8,506 unique visitors
  • Average of 1,000 visitors a day

People who reside or work in buildings with walls that block the signal may need to invest in a router to bring the wireless signal into their home or business. Most residents can receive the signal indoors.

The project, after years of research and planning began in the spring of 2010, is partnership between The City of Cleveland, Councilman Kevin J. Kelley, Old Brooklyn CDC, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland Housing Network, Cleveland Metropolitan School District and MetroHealth Hospital.  Funding for the project comes from Cleveland City Councilman Kevin J. Kelley’s discretionary funds (UDAG, NEF); the City of Cleveland; Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation is providing community outreach and technical support; and  training is conducted through Cleveland Housing Network’s Connect Your Community program with help from Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation.


  1. Congratulations Ken. I’m glad to see the principles and designs of Guerilla Wireless in operation in the real world. Good job.

  2. I am a resident of Old Brooklyn and do have to say our muni wifi works well once the bugs were eliminated, I got rid of AT&T @ $30.00 / MO to free. That’s a no brainer in my book. The only issue I have is trying figure out is how to use my wireless printer with the wifi. Insight would be great! .

  3. When is the rest of Cleveland going to get in on this free wifi??? Is there a plan to expand this program to other parts of the city?

  4. Clevelander says

    I’d vote for Kevin J. Kelley as the new mayor of Cleveland if he’d get this installed in the rest of the city! We were the first city to get lights…why not be one of the first for free wifi?

  5. The money comes from somewhere Clevelander.