Building on the Obama Administration’s goal to expand high speed broadband to all Americans, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and Google Fiber Vice President Dennis Kish, announced that the West Bluff Townhomes in Kansas City, Mo. will be the first public housing development to be connected to Google Fiber’s ultra-high speed (gigabit speed, or up to 1000 mbps) Internet through the ConnectHome Initiative. The 100 housing units at West Bluff are now able to sign up for Google Fiber gigabit speed internet free of cost. Over the next several months, gigabit service will be available to another 1,300 public housing units in the Kansas City metro area. Additionally, Google Fiber will be bringing those high speeds to HUD assisted and affordable housing in all fiber cities, including the Connect Home fiber cities of Atlanta; Durham, N.C.;San Antonio, Texas; and Nashville, Tenn.
ConnectHome is a public-private collaboration to narrow the digital divide for families with school-age children who live in HUD-assisted housing. Through ConnectHome, Internet service providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units in 28 communities across the nation. ConnectHome creates a platform to help ensure that students have access to high-speed Internet for studying and doing their homework at home, as well as in school.
“For far too many low-income families, and especially their children, connecting to the Web remains a distant dream,” said Castro. “Knowledge and education are the currency of this 21st Century economy, and Google Fiber is helping ensure that all children, no matter where they live, have access to the tools they need to be competitive in their schoolwork and close the digital divide.”
“At Google Fiber, we believe that superfast speeds and access to home broadband can move entire communities forward. That’s why we’ve partnered with ConnectHome to bring some of the fastest Internet speeds to those who need it most. Families in these properties will be able to access gigabit Internet service, at no cost to the housing authority or to residents,” said Kish.
Google Fiber is launching this $0/month gigabit Internet service for select affordable housing properties in all of its current and future markets. The company is working with local providers to identify which properties it will connect in future cities. Inspired by its early success of the work with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin, Google Fiber is complementing its free gigabit Internet service by working with local partners to make new investments in computer labs and digital literacy classes so residents learn the skills they need to get online.
Since 2009, the private and public sectors have invested over $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Despite this significant progress, one in four American families still don’t access the internet at home, particularly lower-income families with children. While nearly two-thirds of America’s lowest-income households own a computer, less than half have a home internet subscription. HUD’s ConnectHome initiative strives to ensure that students can access the same level of high-speed Internet at home that they possess in their classrooms.
Eight nationwide Internet Service Providers, including Google Fiber, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, Vyve Broadband, CenturyLink, Cox Communications and Sprint, have announced they are partnering with mayors, public housing authorities, non-profit groups, and for-profit entities to bridge the gap in digital access for students living in assisted housing units.