President Obama wants to work with local governments, telecom firms and nonprofits to deliver broadband service to a quarter million low-income households in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation.
Some 200,000 low-income children would have access broadband Internet service and training through a ConnectHome, a pilot program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) .
“While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends,” the White House said.
Eight Internet service providers, including Google Fiber, CenturyLink, Cox Communications, and Sprint, have agreed to provide free or low-price broadband service to HUD residents in the 28 markets.
“Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities,” according to a White House fact sheet.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) were quick to praise the White House for its program.
“I’m proud that Newark and Camden are among the first communities in America to benefit from the ConnectHome initiative,” said Sen. Booker. “Expanding the availability of broadband Internet in more communities helps to level the technology playing field. The global economy is more interconnected and information-based than ever before, and this initiative will bring people in New Jersey closer to economic opportunities.”
“Now more than ever, a lack of internet access is a denial of access to basic education and employment resources. With a majority of low-income families and millions of children without broadband access, we need innovative solutions to give these families an equal chance,” said Sen. Menendez. “I’m proud that both Newark and Camden will be among the first to gain from this initiative, and I applaud this collaborative approach to link families with the tools necessary to live engaged, productive lives.”
Expanding broadband access has been a 2015 priority for the Obama administration. Earlier this year, the FCC voted to examine a plan that allows families to apply Lifeline phone service subsidies to Internet service at a time when broadband is becoming as essential as the telephone once was for everyday life.
Only 48 percent of households with an income of $25,000 or less, have access to the Internet, putting those households at a disadvantage for a number of education, government, and information services, the FCC said.
Under the program, households would be able to choose whether the subsidy ($9.25) be applied to voice or broadband.