President Barack Obama has unveiled a new initiative as part of his pledge to expand high-speed broadband access to all Americans. Speaking from Durant, Oklahoma, the president on Wednesday introduced ConnectHome, a pilot project to help “close the digital divide” by bringing broadband to poorer communities.
“In this digital age when you can apply for a job, take a course, pay your bills, order pizza, even find a date” by using your connected phone, Obama said, “the internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
He said while more than 90 percent of households headed by a college graduate are connected, fewer than half of households with less than a high-school education are plugged in.
For now, ConnectHome comprises 27 cities and one Indian tribe (the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) that have agreed to aggressively pursue equipping those in need with high-speed Internet connections. The aim is largely to improve the prospects of kids whose educations will suffer without the ability to go online at home — making it a sort of sister initiative to ConnectED, an effort to connect schools in underprivileged areas.
Among the participants in the program is Google, which will be offering free home Internet to certain communities and working with schools to improve access. Various other communications companies will offer low-cost or free broadband to households recommended by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a number of Internet companies like GitHub and Khan Academy are chipping in free courses and training.