On Wednesday, the United States government announced the launch of a new pilot project called ConnectHome. The project will see Google, along with a number of internet service providers, offer free or heavily discounted broadband services to 275,000 low-income families. Initially, ConnectHome will focus on families with school-aged children in 27 cities across the States, as well as the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
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.
In connection with the announcement, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the digital divide. The report used data from the 2013 Census and the national Broadband Map to determine broadband usage and access across the country. An estimated 80 - 90 percent of affluent households have internet at home, even in rural areas. Only about 50 percent of households with lower medium incomes have internet at home. Economic factors are more likely to prevent a family from having internet access, even more than geographic location. ConnectHome seeks to close that divide.
New rules put in place by the Department of Housing and Urban Development will require all new public housing developments to support broadband, and to reduce the probability of dead zones. In addition, Best Buy, PBS, the American Library Association, and the Boys and Girls Club of America will offer training on internet usage for families in a number of cities.