About one in four U.S. households does not have broadband Internet, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). That's one of the many reasons HUD is partnering with Google to install 1 Gbps fiber service to select communities, the partners announced on Wednesday.
For the residents of the communities connected to Google's neighborhood-scale fiber deployments, the company will offer the service for free.
"At Google Fiber, we often talk about how superfast speeds and access to home broadband can move entire communities forward," Google says. "For low income families, access to the Internet can mean the difference between thriving or falling behind."
Google is starting the free fiber offer in one of its Google Fiber pioneering cities - Kansas City, in which the gigabit service costs $70. Particularly, the city's West Bluff community was the first housing project to receive free superfast Internet. There, 100 apartments are already surfing the Web at gigabit speeds for free.
The rollout will expand to about 1,300 other households in the area, and later on will eventually serve a total of 275,000 families.
Google's efforts are being supported by HUD's ConnectHome initiative, which is seeking to break down the barriers to broadband in each of the 28 cities that'll be a part of the program's pilot.
ConnectHome partner communities include the great city of Albany, Ga.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, La.; Boston; Camden, N.J.; Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Cleveland; Denver; Durham, N.C.; Fresno, Calif; Kansas City, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; Los Angeles; Macon, Ga.; Memphis, Tenn.; Meriden, Conn.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York City; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; Rockford, Ill.; San Antonio; Seattle; Springfield, Mass.; Tampa, Fla. and Washington DC.
In the West Bluff area, one of Google and ConnectHome's partners has been supporting the initiative with some low cost hardware. Surplus Exchange has rounded up a bunch of PCs and is selling them for $55 to residents of subsidized housing.
Google plans to support this effort by working with partners to setup or improve computer labs and digital literacy classes in its deployment areas.
"Looking forward, we plan to bring gigabit Internet to select affordable housing in all of our Fiber cities," says Google. "We're working with local providers to identify which properties we'll connect across these markets, and we'll have more to share as we bring Google Fiber to these cities."