Free Google Fiber’s a Game Changer

On Thursday, Google, Inc. finally went public with the details of their strategy for the deployment of 1 GB super high speed fiber optic Internet and TV in Kansas City.  (watch the video)

In laying out the various packages soon to be available to Kansas City, Kansas and Central Kansas City, Missouri residents, Kevin Lo, General Manager of Google Access, introduced the “free” Internet plan.  Basically, those living in “fiberhoods” that get installed will be able to get a 5 megabit per second (Mbps) connection at no monthly charge. They are committing to seven years of free service for those who sign up. Participating households will, however, be required to pay for running the fiber to their homes or apartments.  This will be a one-time fee of $300 that can be paid off over year at $25 a month.

We truly applaud Google for their generosity and really do believe this offer presents us with a real opportunity to close the Digital Divide here in Kansas City.

Connecting for Good exists because we want to bring broadband connectivity to those who can benefit most from it – but can least afford it.  For instance, we are concerned about all the low income teens who get free laptops from KCK schools but cannot access the Internet at home. We collaborated with the Kansas City Youth Center to survey a 200-unit public housing facility in the Rosedale area of Kansas City, KS a few weeks ago.  It revealed that 80% of households were not connected.  These households have an average income of around $10,000 a year. So, it is no surprise that they cited not being able to pay for it as the main reason they aren’t connected.  Our fear is that bringing the “super Internet” to our area would further separate the digital “haves” from the “have nots.” For more information on our local situation, see Google Fiber‘s Digital Divide study The State of Broadband Internet Access in Kansas City released on June 22, 2012.

Up until now, we have been focusing our efforts on plans to build community wireless networks that would extend connectivity to low income households. Our original wi-fi co-op plan was not feasible under Google’s current licensing arrangements. However, their newly announced plan to bring free access to those same households – at the speed we had hoped to provide – gives our organization another approach to tackling this issue that has a promise of  real success.

So now our focus has shifted to getting as many of these installations as possible in Kansas City’s most needy areas.   Most importantly, we will be trying to find ways to cover the construction fee for those without the means to pay for it.

The logistics of this effort will emerge in the coming weeks as we seek to collaborate with Google Fiber’s Kansas City team. So far, we are very pleased to say that they have expressed a desire to work with us to explore the options. We encourage you to stay tuned for additional development – which we hope will emerge quickly.

 

About Michael Liimatta

Michael is president and co-founder of Connecting for Good. He has served in leadership positions for over thirty years with nonprofit organizations and associations and in online higher education.

28. July 2012 by Michael Liimatta
Categories: Digital Inclusion Blog, News | Leave a comment

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