By RACHEL JANOSEC
Google Fiber is on a mission to wire homes, schools, libraries and other public institutions in Kansas City, Mo., for a discounted price, but not without a kick. A year after Google made its promise, the online giant announced that only areas which had enough pre-registered residents who paid a $10 deposit were able to receive the service. The preregistration process immediately showed the divide in the community because mostly white neighborhoods were able to get enough registrations, but black communities quickly lagged.
Residents of the mostly black east side of Kansas City were initially very excited about this opportunity and saw it as a new educational advantage for their children. They also believed that the new service would allow for developers to build new homes and building in their communities. Google was fighting to convince the lower-income black residents that Internet access is crucial for an improvement in their community. The Internet service could help them apply for jobs, do research, take classes online, and so forth. But even with all these incentives they still couldn’t reach enough residents to register.
The fact that most blacks won’t be able to have access to Google Fiber just deepens the racial divide in Kansas City that residents have been living with for years. The blacks believe that they are being left behind due to the fact that they are lower income and some of the residents think that there are much bigger issues that the community should deal with first.
The certain neighborhoods that qualify for the Internet service will receive speeds up to a gigabit per second, which is 1oo times faster than any average connection. Google is offering the service for $70 per month and also a television service for $120 per month. Public buildings such as schools and hospitals will receive the service for free.
The service has extended the deadline for black communities in hopes that they will reach the expected number of residents in the near future. Google is also offering another appealing feature for low-income areas, which is a five-megabit Internet connection for seven years, but it requires a one-time fee of $300. Either way, things are looking up for these communities whether they get the Internet service or not.