White House Announces Low-Income Web Program

July 15, 2015
The Obama administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced a new low-income Internet ...
The Obama administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced a new low-income Internet pilot program called ConnectHome. The public-private program is launching in 27 cities and one tribal nation and is expected to initially reach more than 275,000 low-income households. Internet service providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.

The program is initially launching in Albany, Macon and Atlanta, GA; Baltimore; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA; Boston and Springfield, MA; Newark and Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver; Durham, NC; Los Angeles and Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Memphis and Nashville, TN; Meriden, CT; New York; Philadelphia; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.

Some of the initial participating ISPs include Cox Communications, Google Fiber (NASDAQ:GOOG), Suddenlink, Vyve Broadband, CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) and Sprint (NYSE:S).

Cox - a founding partner of Connect2Compete, which provides low-cost Internet service and devices to K-12 students and their families who qualify for the National School Lunch Program - serves four of the municipalities slated for the pilot: New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA; Macon, GA; and Meriden, CT. In those cities, Cox will partner with local public housing authorities to offer home Internet service for $9.95 per month to eligible families with school-aged children. Additionally, in Macon, the James M. Cox Foundation will make 1,500 discounted tablets, pre-loaded with educational software, available for $30 to students and their families participating in ConnectHome.

Google Fiber serves four of the selected communities - Atlanta; Durham, NC; Nashville; and Kansas City - and is launching a program to connect residents in select public and affordable housing properties for free. The company plans to also extend the program to every other current and future Google Fiber market.

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which has been running its Internet Essentials low-income broadband adoption program since 2011, issued the following statement:

"We welcome the administration's new initiative on trying to connect more low-income Americans to broadband, which is something Comcast has been strongly focused on for the past four years. Comcast has the country's largest and most comprehensive low-income broadband adoption program, having already connected more than 1.8 million Americans. We welcome additional companies, government agencies, and others to join in helping to close the digital divide. We also note that studies show that the main barrier to broadband adoption is a complex set of relevance, digital literacy, and awareness issues, and we've been working in local communities to overcome those issues and look forward to these additional efforts."