President Obama launches Internet access program for low-income households

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pilot program — dubbed ConnectHome — is designed to bring residents of public or assisted housing online in 28 communities.

US President, Barack Obama

According to various media reports, President Obama on Wednesday will announce plans to work with local governments, telecommunications firms and nonprofits to provide broadband service and digital training to more than a quarter million low-income households.

Sources say the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pilot program - dubbed ConnectHome - is designed to bring residents of public or assisted housing online in 28 communities.

The plan will bring broadband Internet service and training to close to 200,000 low-income children, the Obama administration reportedly said.

“While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends,” the White House said.

“This ‘homework gap’ runs the risk of widening the achievement gap, denying hardworking students the benefit of a technology-enriched education.”

The White House said the president will formally announce the program in Durant, Oklahoma.

Eight Internet service providers, including CenturyLink, Cox Communications, Sprint and GoogleFiber, will provide low-cost or free broadband service to HUD residents in the chosen communities, sources say.

In addition to support from the corporate and nonprofit sectors, the initiative will also rely on the support of local governments, reports reveal.

“Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

HUD will also be directed to take additional steps to make broadband a part of its assisted housing.

The Obama administration has made expanding broadband access one of its priorities in 2015. Earlier this year, the FCC voted to move forward with examining a plan to expand a phone service subsidy program to cover broadband service.

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