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Google Fiber pledges free Internet access for public housing

Google Fiber ​is currently live and running in three cities -- Austin, Kansas City and Provo -- with expansion plans already lined up for five more.
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Written by Rachel King, Staff Writer on

Google Fiber is still in its grassroots stage with small but steady footholds in growing metropolises scattered around the country.

But the high-speed connectivity platform is planning to reach many more communities in short time, with a particular focus on bringing free Internet access to public housing residents.

The offer is just one aspect of ConnectHome, a program launched by the White House and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Unveiled by President Obama while on the road on Wednesday, the pilot program is set to launch across 27 cities one tribal nation with the starting goal of spanning over 275,000 low-income households, including nearly 200,000 children.

Aside from Google Fiber, other tech giants joining in on the project with low-cost monthly Internet service plans include CenturyLink in Washington state and Cox Communications in Louisiana.

Touching off from free mobile broadband access already offered to students by AT&T and Verizon through the ConnectED federal program, Sprint is working with the HUD department and ConnectHome to offer free wireless broadband Internet service to eligible K-12 students living in public housing.

Along with free Internet access, Google is also pledging to establish computer labs and provide computer skills training in each of its Fiber markets.

Google Fiber is currently live and running in three cities -- Austin, Kansas City and Provo -- with expansion plans already lined up for five more: Salt Lake City, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has already revealed a few more potential sites, such as San Jose, Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix.

For the ConnectHome initiative, Google Fiber has already committed to installing and providing free high-speed broadband in four communities: Atlanta, Durham, Nashville and Kansas City.

Although a timeline hasn't been provided yet, Google promised to extend the program to every current and future Fiber city.

"We realize, though, that providing an Internet connection is just one piece of the puzzle," explained Erica Swanson, head of community impact at Google Fiber, in a blog post on Wednesday. "People can only take advantage of the many benefits of the web when they understand why it matters and know how to use it."

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