Google: Keep your promise to make Fiber accessible for low-income families.
I grew up in Kansas City, not far from the area where Google has selected to initiate it's first Google Fiber experiment—a massive undertaking, to bring super-fast (1gb per sec) internet to the community with a goal of getting more people online. According to Google, they are “together…making Kansas City stronger”.Like many cities, KC has stark divisions between rich and poor and black and white. The city even straddles two states: Kansas and Missouri and has needed a boost for years. Access to hi-speed internet could be a great asset to families struggling to find jobs and stay afloat.
However Google's strategy of pre-registering households could be increasing the digital, racial and socioeconomic divide in the area, not healing it. While more affluent Kansas City neighborhoods quickly met the sign-up requirement, several lower-income areas were slow to register. By the end of the September 9 deadline a large number of neighborhoods had met Google’s qualifications to receive access. However, nearly all of the remaining 22 neighborhoods that failed to qualify were in Kansas City, Missouri, east of Troost Avenue, the city’s historical economic and racial boundary.
Many households east of the KS and MO state line are going to have a difficult time jumping pre-registration hurdles. "To pre-register, residents needed to be willing to pony up $10. They also needed a credit or debit card, a Google Wallet account, and a Gmail account, which are harder to come by if you never had internet access in the first place. Many don’t even have bank accounts...." (Wired Magazine). And many don't have a good computer or internet access to pre-register with.
The first KC homes are expected to receive Google Fiber this fall. In recent statements, Google has suggested that neighborhoods that didn't meet the adverse registration requirements will have another chance to sign up "sometime next year." Google can break down the digital divide and help Kansas City heal! Google: set a firm date for the extended pre-registration deadline and hold community training sessions in each remaining neighborhood that show residents how the internet can benefit them.
This additional investment in the project will make this experiment heal, not hurt, this important area of Kansas City.