After making preliminary moves to do this last year, Google has officially announced that it will be bringing gigabit internet to public housing properties in all cities that offer Google Fiber — for free. The company is starting today with a property called West Bluff in Kansas City, its first-ever Fiber market. "We’ve wired all 100 homes with Fiber, and families can sign up today to access the Internet at up to 1,000 Mbps," Fiber VP Dennis Kish wrote in a blog post. "And through local ConnectHome partners, such as Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange, they’ll also be able to purchase discounted devices and learn new computer skills. Across Kansas City, we’re working with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, reaching more than 1,300 families in the metro area."
Google says the plan is to do the same thing for "select" public housing properties in all Fiber cities, and the company is "working with local providers to identify which properties we’ll connect across these markets." More info will be shared in the coming months. It's all part of Google's participation in ConnectHome, a unified effort between local communities, the government, and private sector companies to extend faster internet to families who might not be able to afford everyday broadband packages.
"For families in affordable housing, cost can be one of the biggest barriers to getting online," Hish said. "Access to the internet can mean the difference between thriving or falling behind. It can mean more children using computers in after-school programs and STEM classes, more students going online to finish their homework, more people taking advantage of resources like Khan Academy, and more families learning basic computer skills that help them be more connected."
In a similar vein, Comcast offers internet Essentials, a low-cost ($9.95 / month) service that delivers internet speeds of 10Mbps and free internet training to eligible families. Like Google, Comcast doesn't charge any installation fees for those who wish to sign up for a connection. Comcast has already brought over 500,000 families onto the Internet Essentials plan, totaling over 2 million US residents.