Google will bring free high-speed internet to public housing projects in select cities, as part of a larger initiative by the Obama Administration to ensure low-income Americans are not left behind in an era when more and more everyday tasks require getting online.
“Today, in all of our Google Fiber markets, we’re launching a program to connect residents in select public and affordable housing properties for $0/month with no installation fee,” Google announced on its Fiber blog.
Google Fiber is now available only in a handful of markets, including Kansas City; Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas, but the company plans to expand soon to other cities such as Portland and Phoenix. The company did not say how many individual households will be covered by the new public housing program, which will be available in every city where Google Fiber is offered.
Google (GOOG) also said that it will provide digital literacy programs to assist people who may lack basic computer skills or who are unfamiliar with the Internet. The company claims that an early trial of the program, in Austin’s Manchaca Village, has proved popular; more than 90% of eligible people signed up for service, and half of the residents completed a training program.
The larger Obama Administration initiative is called ConnectHome, and will reportedly cover 275,000 households in 27 cities and one tribal area. The White House says the program is intended to address a “homework gap” in which poorer students may not be able to keep up in school because they lack reliable internet access. As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014, thousands of low-income students currently rely on Wi-Fi in McDonalds to do their schoolwork.
Fiber Internet, which provides lightning fast speeds, is popular but is only available in select parts of the company and pricing is uneven. A new Comcast fiber offering will cost between $159 and $300 a month plus installation fees; Google Fiber offers 1GB speeds for around $70 a month.