Offering Free broadband is the best way to accelerate deployment of broadband services in any country, but it wouldn’t viable for the service provider to run its business. Companies like Google Fiber can think of such services in selected communities. This week, Google Fiber announced free gigabit Internet service to residents of selected public housing projects that are connected to its fiber optic service in U.S. cities.
Delivering free gigbit services to those who wish to have the services, but would be difficult to afford is really a great community service. When it comes to broadband, there are at least four kind of attitudes or categories. People who wish and can afford, people who wish but can’t afford, those don’t wish but can afford and those who don’t wish and can’t afford. We are not bothered about the last two categories. Broadband deployment in any country reaches saturation when connectivity to the first two categories completes. Google can’t simply go ahead by ignoring the second category of public.
Google Fiber launched the program at West Bluff, an affordable housing community in Kansas City, Mo., where 100 homes have been connected to Google Fiber. Across the Kansas City area, Google is now working with affordable housing providers to connect as many as nine properties that could reach more than 1,300 local families. Google described the program as an extension of its work with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a conference call that under the ConnectHome program, up to 200,000 children in affordable housing in 28 different U.S. cities are expected to be connected to fast Internet. Google Fiber is expected to be a part of those connections in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Nashville and San Antonio, he said.
There will be no cost to local housing authorities, their residents or HUD. Google will absorb the costs of the free service and there will be no fees or contract. The Kansas City area was the first Google Fiber location in the nation, starting in 2012. Today, the service is available in two other cities – Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah – with work under way in six others. Normally, residents in Kansas City pay $70 a month for Google Fiber fast Internet service.
In addition to free Internet, eligible residents will work with ConnectHome partners like Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange to be able to purchase discounted computers and learn new computer skills, Google said.
Google plans to complement free Internet service for some families with investments in computers labs and digital literacy classes in Austin.