When communities discover that Google Fiber is coming to town, there is usually instant jubilation. I know that when it was announced that my neck of the woods here in North Carolina would be receiving Google Fiber, my Facebook feed lit up with overjoyed friends tired of the monopolies that rule the Internet roost. A “mere” $70/month will get you 1Gbps Internet speeds with Google Fiber. However, if you pay a one-time $300 construction fee, you can enjoy “free” 5Mbps/1Mbps Internet speeds.
In a move to further bolster its philanthropic efforts, Alphabet is bringing its Google Fiber service to low-income communities as part of the ConnectHome initiative that was created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Google Fiber will be offered for free to roughly 1,300 families in the Kansas City area (a city that obviously is already wired for Google Fiber). And we’re not talking about the budget 5 down/1 up service; we’re talking about full-blown 1Gbps Google Fiber.
“We want to give every family in America access,” said U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro. “The Internet is no longer a luxury, but something everyone needs to succeed. Providing that access is a big priority of mine.
"We don't have a single person to waste. We need to make sure that young folks of modest means also have to the tools they need to succeed in the 21st-century global economy."
Residents in the West Bluff housing development, which contains 100 apartments, will be the first to enjoy blazing fast Internet speeds free of charge. Even the setup process will be pain-free, with West Bluff residents having access to a Wi-Fi router that provides Internet access to all of their devices.
"It removes some of the friction of signing up and then waiting for a home install," says Erica Swanson, who leaves Google Fiber’s community impact team. "We wanted the new experience to be optimized for people getting online for the first time."
100 out of 1,300 homes is still a drop in the bucket for Google Fiber’s efforts to connect the poor in Kansas City. However, the Google Fiber team expects to have all 1,300 homes within the next six months. As for ConnectHome, the ultimate goal of the program is to provide high-speed Internet access to 275,000 low-income households around across the United States.