Detroit's Digital Divide: Low Income Citizens Build Their Own Internet

The city of Detroit, in the U.S. state of Michigan, has experienced an impressive economic and demographic shift over the past 50-years.

Deindustrialization coupled with depopulation has stripped the city of it’s economic strength cascading it into turmoil. Global competition from automakers shifted manufacturing jobs out of the area. As businesses left, communities decayed, inducing a terrifying surge in violent crime. Urban rot came next festering from within and eventually sending the city into bankruptcy in 2013 where it reemerged in 2014.

Five-years later, Detroit has gotten worse – not better - and the city is having trouble providing basic utilities for its residents.

In particular, the city along with internet service providers are failing to deliver high-speed internet to a significant part of the low income areas. 

That is why one community group of technology geeks have banded together to create an internet of their own.

Equitable Internet Initiative (EII) is a program that teaches Detroit residents how to build high speed WiFi networks. EII says Detroit is one of the top 5 least connected cities in the United States coupled with 60% of the city residents that do not have access to high-speed internet. The group aims to stop the growing digital divide that is leaving many low income residents behind and forgotten in the inner cities where there is only death and destruction.

EII has trained teams in the North End, Island View, and Southwest Detroit to setup infrastructure: a church that functions as a hub and internet service provider which then a signaled is beamed to communities that don’t have access to high-speed internet.

Residents who want internet from EII have to meet two requirements:

  1. can’t afford internet
  2. don’t already have internet or <10 Mbps

Once the requirements are met, EII will send a team to the residential location and install an outdoor directional antenna and an indoor router with a setup time around one-hour. EII recognizes that access to high-speed internet is a worldwide problem and if that is not fixed a “digital class system” will develop.

EII wants high-speed access for everyone..Popular Mechanics also said,

The EII offers a radical proposition that would allow people to get Internet outside of a major telecom. But it’s got its own money concerns. Initially, it worked off a federal grant. When that money dried up, the deal with Rocket Fiber made it viable again.


But that partnership will not cover the costs of more and more internet connections growing in perpetuity. Jenny Lee, the executive director of Allied Media Projects, the group behind EII, raised the question in a recent article. “How do we do this in way that doesn’t replicate the inequities of other utility companies? Are we going to be the equivalent of water department coming to shut you off if you don’t pay your bill?”


One way the group hopes it will prove its worth is by creating apps. Its Next Gen Apps program teaches students coding basics like CSS, HTML, Javascript, and Node.js. Combined with the EII’s efforts to provide internet in their areas, there’s a hope that people will truly make the internet their own.

Bottomline: Detroit is a prime example of citizens working together for survival in a post collapsed bankrupt city. The one question we have: how long until government shuts down this private internet?



Nom de Guerre hedgeless_horseman Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:27 Permalink

Just added a 17M kit to my Hustler vertical.  Great addition.  Logged some good contacts already.  Thinking of investing in digital at some point.  Currently researching FT8 as it seems to be the protocol du jour.Also have an extensive Buddipole kit that I can set up and take down in less than 5 min.  I am considering doing some SOTA hikes and log some mountain top contacts with this. I love amateur radio.  It's like a treasure hunt every time I turn on the rig.  A few like-minded friends and I practice through the repeater network from time to time should things ever go pear-shaped.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

Peter Royce Cl… Nom de Guerre Fri, 11/24/2017 - 21:36 Permalink

Don't forget there's also SSTV for your viewing pleasure not to mention pirate radio, satellite comms, wefax and CW. I'd give my call, but I'm pretty hated around here for calling out the Storm Front posters - don't need my wife and daughter getting harassed because my name and address are tied to an open-for-all license list.
Not sure that I have ever heard anyone on 17M, been overseas 90% of my amateur radio "career" so that may explain it. Not too many hams in Afghanistan through Lebanon...

In reply to by Nom de Guerre

Endgame Napoleon BustainMovealota Sat, 11/25/2017 - 12:04 Permalink

They are working, with the moms who qualify for assistance [not working hard] to stay below the less-than-$1,000-per-month earned income limit for welfare. To get free groceries in amounts that equal a week’s pay for a college-educated DHS worker, moms have to submit 8 paycheck stubs, proving 20 hours of work per week or proof of looking for work.

Assistance increases with greater womb productivity, not greater work productivity, and expenses are counted against their income.

They also get monthly cash assistance in the same amount as the EBT for kids born within time restrictions. They get Section 8 housing that is almost free, like $35 per month, or, in my area of the country, an amount off of rent in nicer apartments per child produced to compete with robots for jobs. If they have a little more earned income or help from parents, they can get a per-child rent reduction on apartments in nicer areas of the city than most college grads can afford. These are called mixed-income units. Developers get a per-unit [tax credit] to build them.

And, moms get a child tax credit, which is nothing but cash-assistance welfare in lump sum for moms to spend on luxuries if they choose (and many do). At up to $6,318, it equals 4 months of wages in a $9-per-hour job.

They work.

Because so many moms are able to work part time for extremely low wages due to pay-per-child welfare, wages will never go up for all of the people who do not qualify. That is EVERYONE who lacks a productive womb except a few of the disabled and the elderly who get a negligible amount of monthly food stamps that won’t cover the cost of a ham.

In reply to by BustainMovealota

Endgame Napoleon DownWithYogaPants Sat, 11/25/2017 - 12:13 Permalink

There are some brainy kids in there. I am not against the educational efforts, but when they give the moms $6,318 checks called “tax credits” to spend at the beach with boyfriends or on tattoos, it makes a mockery out of hard work.

It literally takes 4 months of full-time work to earn as much the max child tax credit in a $9-per-hour job. It takes 3 months to earn that much in one of the mom-gang jobs in financial services, like insurance underwriting, credit processing or licensed insurance sales in many settings.

What about removing all the pay-per-birth welfare, feeding the children at school and building big computer centers, where people can go to use free internet and get instruction on coding, etc? Employers prefer to keep a plantation, with workers who are able to accept rock-bottom pay due to free housing and food, while all of those with no womb productivity have to survive on the depressed wages alone.

In reply to by DownWithYogaPants

MoreFreedom vato poco Sat, 11/25/2017 - 15:39 Permalink

Tyler is being nice with "Urban rot came next festering from within and eventually sending the city into bankruptcy in 2013 where it reemerged in 2014."   The reality is corrupt Democrat politicians ripped off the citizens so much, partly by paying off the welfare queens and kings who kept them in office, that it bankrupted the city so it couldn't do it's job of protecting people's lives, liberty and pursuit of hapiness.  Instead the Democrats became an accomplice in ripping off the productive and driving them away. 

In reply to by vato poco

JuliaS Yen Cross Fri, 11/24/2017 - 19:27 Permalink

Reminds me of the early to mid 90's when we got a few friends together with technical know-how and built our own network. It wasn't internet, just a residential LAN with a central file repository. We hooked a few buildings together and were essentially our own internet provider. Charged a one time $15 fee for residents with computers to join to cover the cost of running the cable. It felt great! It wasn't a business. Just something we did for the hell of it, because we were tired of going door to door to trade floppies. There was no competition. People were quite chill about us running our own cables around the neighborhood. Not like nowdays when police shows up to bust lemonade stands. Only issue we had to deal with was vandalism. Every once in a while some clown would cut a cable here and there. We'd patch it right up.Regardless of the article, people should be thinking forward about having an alternative to the internet, because with censorship, net neutrality and ever-climbing cost of service, it's only going to get worse. Internet is nothing special. I've worked in IT for a long time. Setting up WAN domains is easy. Equipment is dirt-cheap, if you're not going for the latest and greatest fiber-optic, LTE or whatever. Software will probably cost more than the hardware... and time. It takes time to do these things and to keep maintaining them, but it's totally doable.Microwave line-of-site repeaters with 25km radius can be acquired for about $350 in pairs. Nowdays it's actually easier than ever to set up your own internet, but I'm sure that once you even attempt to go rogue, a whole ton of agencies will be on your back in no time. We're not in the 90's anymore.

In reply to by Yen Cross

Son of Captain Nemo . . . _ _ _ . . . Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:19 Permalink

Cogent observation!


We have the ability to get our World on a computer screen within milliseconds and find out things about our government we use to have to troll through hours of "dewey decimal" and microfiche in a library rack 30 years ago that happened months or years before it could be "vetted" and published...

And even though it's a keystroke away, the vast majority don't use it to find out where the "heart of darkness" lives that is killing everyone else including themselves?...

They are far better off buying guns and shooting the local dirty cop "shaking them down", or the ATF agent that is getting paid by the same pimp that gives them the badge and gun that also puts the drugs on the street!!!

In reply to by . . . _ _ _ . . .

. . . _ _ _ . . . any_mouse Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:37 Permalink

I understand what they meant, but that is not what was written. They ended the sentence with 2014... syntax.But none of that matters anymore, I suppose. *sigh*90+% of so-called 'fake news' and its propagation comes from people not having understood an initial statement. Errors multiply.Just look at BustainMovealota. Imagine he reads an article, misunderstands it, and then writes about the issue on his blog which is then read by a semi-literate individual in turn. It wouldn't take long to turn that original article on its head.

In reply to by any_mouse

tion Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:04 Permalink

The government can't/won't fix Detroit, but it is turning around.  People realize they need to come up with their own solutions.Detroit has the most undervalued real estate in the country.  More habitable housing needs to come to market in some areas to relieve tight vacancies.  While many people will keep laughing at Detroit, others will seize opportunity and grow their wealth there. 

AlphaSeraph tion Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:11 Permalink

From a purely monetary valuation perspective, I think you're dead on. There's a problem though, culture and social fabric - which are part of why Detroit is so cheap. It's all well and fine to be able to buy a house for a couple of hundred dollars...but what the fuck are you going to do if you can't survive the week there or if you have no one who can pay rent to justify the investment in **literally** rebuildng neighborhoods from the ground up.

In reply to by tion

tion AlphaSeraph Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:30 Permalink

A lot of tech jobs going in.  Downtown business vacancies filling.  If you can't survive the week there you might be a pussy. You can't really fuck around in Detroit without boots on the ground and getting a good lay of the land, plenty of bad areas that will stay bad for a long time, but a lot of progress have been made on a neighborhood to neighborhood basis already in the past several years.  High risk, high reward, dealing with cash means no debt servicing costs.  Property tax valuations can still be a bit stupid there.  Hopefully enough millenials will take a fancy to Hamtramck to price the goat fuckers out.  A lot of companies and workers are getting priced out of a good chunk of other American cities, but want to stay in an urban area vs. setting up shop in the burbs.  While other cities go down a path of decline/decay, Detroit will be rebuilt by scrappy people, and has a brighter future ahead.  

In reply to by AlphaSeraph

BarkingCat tion Fri, 11/24/2017 - 23:10 Permalink

I have one simple rule for investing in real estate. Avoid niggers. Just to be clear,  it does not mean all blacks. I have 2 rental properties that are rented to black families.  In both cases they are fine people and I have been in the houses afrer they lived their for over a year. I could not ask for better tenants. 

In reply to by tion

any_mouse tion Fri, 11/24/2017 - 18:28 Permalink

True, the citizens are also arming themselves and taking back their neighborhoods. Police are way more than a few minutes away.

Too busy exchanging blows and shots as one precinct buys drugs from another precinct.

If this becomes a trend across the USA and the urban citizens start creating self reliant communities, then the elites will get really nervous.

In reply to by tion

tion falconflight Fri, 11/24/2017 - 23:10 Permalink

What are you talking about? I am talking about private individuals growing wealth through capital deployment and adding/creating value.  I know commietards think that landlords should all hang from nooses, but properties don't repair, maintain, and update themselves.  The commietards should all put their money where their mouths are and either become homeowners or virtue signal their outrage against the evil landlords by boycotting rental properties and finding a fashionable street corner to live on.Have you not noticed that large swaths of this country are turning into third world like enclaves? Detroit is just ahead of the curve and coming out the other side.  

In reply to by falconflight