According to an official statement released by the White House, a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will offer free or highly subsidized internet access to poor families as part of President Obama’s ConnectHome initiative, which will aim to provide modern high-speed broadband access to students from lower-income families. The scheme is expected to benefit over 275,000 such families, who’ll now be offered broadband services either for free or for as low as $9.95 plus taxes per month. The ISPs include companies such as Google, Cox, Sprint and Century Link, and the pilot will start later this year in 27 cities including Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; Cleveland, OH; Newark, NJ; New Orleans, LA and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
The scheme comes in the wake of a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers which shows that most people without broadband access across America are having to go without the service because of lack of affordability rather than the lack of availability, which has been the argument in some quarters. As for the ConnectHome project, the focus will primarily be on families with school-going children in poorer neighborhoods and housing projects. Classes on digital literacy will also be held by the American Library Association and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in the designated communities. As part of the ConnectHome initiative, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has also mandated that new public housing projects will need to support broadband in the future.
While President Obama is expected to announce the rollout of the scheme during his speech at a Durant, Oklahoma high school, the White House has already released a statement saying, “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”. According to reports, while Google is said to be offering free Fiber services to qualified families in Atlanta, GA; Durham, NC; Kansas City, MO; and Nashville, TN; Cox will be offering its broadband services at $9.95 per month in Macon, GA; and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA.