Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg aren't the only ones who want to bring free Internet access to the entire globe. The White House has just announced a new program designed to get everyone in the country connected to the Web for little to no cost.
As part of the ongoing ConnectEd strategy, the new initiative, ConnectHome, is an attempt to close the "digital divide" between low-income Americans and the high price of technology.
By allowing cheaper Internet access to low-income families and to 99% of K-12 schools across the country, 275,000 low-income households, including 200,000 children, will have access to the tools that are now mandatory to succeed in our ever-increasing tech-obsessed world.
A statement from the White House reads:
“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. ... This ‘homework gap’ runs the risk of widening the achievement gap, denying hard-working students the benefit of a technology-enriched education.”
As part of the ConnectHome initiative, broadband hookups will cost as little as $9.95 a month, compared to the standard going rate of anywhere from $35 to $75 a month.
ConnectHome will begin in 28 different cities including Albany, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Boston, Massachusetts; Camden, New Jersey; Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Durham, North Carolina; Fresno, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; Los Angeles, California; Macon, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; Meriden, Connecticut; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Rockford, Illinois; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Springfield, Massachusetts; Tampa, Florida; and Washington, D.C.
Participating service providers include Google Fiber, Cox Communications, Sprint, Suddenlink Communications and Vyve Broadband. And according to Wired, The White House has also enlisted the help of Best Buy, GitHub and Khan Academy to provide "digital literacy programs" to help new Internet users transition.
When announcing the plan, President Obama told a crowd in Oklahoma:
“If we don’t get these young people the access to what they need to achieve their potential, then it’s our loss; it’s not just their loss ... They’ve got big dreams. We’ve got to have an interest in making sure they can achieve those dreams.”
This plan is certainly a step in the right direction, in more ways than just public education. The New York Times notes:
While many Americans, even those with low incomes, have smartphones that connect to the Internet using a cellular plan, a home Internet connection would help them stay beneath cellular data caps and avoid additional fees, some housing advocates and researchers said.
For the complete list of what cites are getting what and who is working with which city, click here to see the full press release from the White House. It offers more information by region and details the qualifications for this program, including income.
How much would free or low-cost Internet access change your life? Let me know by posting in the comments below.