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Google rolling out free gigabit internet in public housing

Select Kansas City homes will get Google Fiber as part of a White House initiative.

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Google started its gigabit Fiber program in Kansas City and now some of the area's low-income residents will be first to get the service for free. The company is now hooking up homes in Fiber neighborhoods as part of its pledge to the White House's ConnectHome initiative. The program will help school-age kids study using the internet so they have the same opportunities as kids from more well-off families. "We've wired 100 homes with Fiber, and families can sign up today to access the Internet at up to 1,000 Mbps," said Google Fiber VP Dennis Kish in a blog post.

"The U.S. has some of the most expensive broadband in the world, while lagging far behind other countries in Internet speeds. And for families in affordable housing, cost can be one of the biggest barriers to getting online. [The program] can mean more children using computers in after-school programs and STEM classes, more students going online to finish their homework [and] more people taking advantage of resources like Khan Academy," Kish explained.

The program can mean more children using computers in after-school programs and STEM classes and more students going online to finish their homework.

Google isn't the only company participating in ConnectHome -- Sprint, for instance, is also offering free wireless broadband, and Seattle's Liberty Broadband offers basic internet for $10 per month. Comcast, meanwhile, has its own Essentials program with 10Mbps internet at $10 a month as well. Google's is far and away the fastest, but the "selective" rollout will be much more limited than the 500,000 homes on Comcast's service.

However, Google promised to connect up to 1,300 homes in Kansas City, and plans to roll out the free service to low-income families in current and future Fiber cities (it's in nine locations right now). The search giant is working with local government to determine which families in those areas will get the service, and will reveal more details in the coming months.

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