Obama launches free high-speed Internet service for low-income households

By Tomas Monzon  |  July 15, 2015 at 2:18 PM
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DURANT, Okla., July 15 (UPI) -- President Obama announced Wednesday his ConnectHome plan, which aims to expand high speed broadband internet access to more families nationwide.

The program will launch in 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, initially servicing over 275,000 low-income households and almost 200,000 children with internet service providers (ISPs) providing broadband internet access, technical training, digital literacy programs and Internet access devices for individuals living in assisted housing units.

The initiative is a cooperation between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration.

Google will be one of the companies offering Internet services, as will Sprint Corp. and CenturyLink Inc. Some services such as Google Fiber will be free while others will cost as low as $9.95 a month. Best Buy will be in charge of offering technical training and support in some places while software developing site GitHub has donated $250,000 to Obama's initiative.

The initiative aims to expand access to high-speed internet for all Americans. It builds on the president's ConnectED initiative that seeks to have 99 percent of K-12 students connected to the Internet in classrooms and libraries over the next five years.

Besides a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, the program uses no federal money.

Although wireless and Internet technologies have developed quickly and are now available, nearly 98 percent of U.S. individuals (coming from zero percent in 2009), America's lower-income children and individuals still lack Internet access at home, which a White House press release says will "widen the achievement gap" between students who have Internet and those who do not.

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted for a plan to expand a telephone subsidy program to also cover broadband service.

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