Search engine giant Google has announced that its Google Fiber project has begun offering free high-speed internet access to residents in affordable housing.
This is great news for low-income Americans who simply can’t find enough spare cash in their limited budgets to pay for gigabyte speed internet service, which can cost $70 or more per month.
Who are the first lucky Americans to benefit from Google’s giveaway? It’s being introduced at West Bluff, a HUD-assisted project in Kansas City, Missouri. A Google Fiber press release said, “… we’re working with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, reaching more than 1,300 families in the metro area.”
And what about low-income HUD-assisted folks who don’t live in Kansas City? Plans call for Google Fiber to roll out the program in the other cities where it offers internet service — current including Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. The company intends to move into six more metro areas (Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C; Nashville, Tennessee; Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; Portland, Oregon, San Antonio, Texas; and San Jose, California)
Google says it is investigating potential deployment in eleven other cities.
Although this new program is aimed at America’s neediest families, anyone in cities served by Google Fiber can sign-up for the company’s high-speed Internet service. But here’s the catch — if they don’t live in HUD-assisted housing, they won’t qualify for this special, free Google giveaway. Instead, they are required pay a $300 construction fee that’s waived for qualified low-income HUD residents. (Don’t feel too bad for them, though, because Google cuts them a break by allowing them to spread the payment over 12 months.)
In Kansas City, Google is following the example set by Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. that is, they are working with Connecting for Good, Surplus Exchange, and other charitable organizations to offer huge discounts on refurbished tablets, laptops, and phones. Computer labs and classes in which residents can learn to use the Internet are on the drawing boards.
The Google Fiber program is the latest advance in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s ConnectHome program. But Google is far from being alone in this effort. Combined with similar programs, millions of financially-struggling Americans have never had more ways to get online.
As PCMag.com reports:
Google is not the only provider participating in ConnectHome. CenturyLink will hook up HUD households in Seattle for $9.95 per month the first year and $14.95 for the next four years, similar to what Comcast has done with Internet Essentials. Cox Communications will do the same in Macon, Meriden, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans for eligible K-12 families residing in public housing, as will Sprint.
In the Choctaw Tribal Nation, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will also work to provide high-speed Internet to 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents.
There hasn’t been a lot of good news in the world of cheap Internet lately. And that makes this Google fiber announcement a little sweeter for low-income Americans.
Please roll out the service in more cities as fast as you can, Google. Millions of financially-struggling folks are eagerly awaiting.