Last month the Obama administration launched the ConnectHome initiative, another effort to address income inequality in the United States through technology. While 98 percent of all Americans have access to the Internet, most likely through their mobile phones or tablets, one in four Americans don’t have connectivity at home. Nearly half of all low-income households lack Internet access.
ConnectHome will initially bring affordable broadband access, digital literacy training and technical assistance to 275,000 low-income families living in public housing in 27 American cities and to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. The initiative will partner with both nonprofits and private firms including Google Fiber, CenturyLink, and Cox Communications to provide services at prices ranging from free to US$14.95 a month for participants.
This is part of a larger plan to update the nation’s technological-based infrastructure and support the president’s pledge to bring Internet access to 99 percent of American schools by 2017. As more school curricula become tech-centric, under this plan, students of all income levels can now do homework, research and communicate effectively with their teachers and other students when they go home to work online, which helps to close the achievement gap.
ConnectHome is similar to the Lifeline program, which provides subsidized mobile and landline telephone services to low-income Americans for US$10 a month. The Federal Communications Commission is seriously looking into a proposal that would subsidize broadband Internet access and treat it as a public utility.
There have been efforts by the private sector to also provide affordable connectivity. Under the Internet Essential program, Comcast provides users whose children participate in the federal school lunch program Internet access for US$10 a month and a deeply discounted laptop. AT&T also offers US$10 a month for Internet access to recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Global Wire Associates supports the ConnectHome initiative. In 2015 Internet access is a human right. Connectivity allows people from all walks of life and income levels to be on an equal-level playing field to apply for jobs, find housing, do homework, have access to information and knowledge, and, most importantly, help close the income gap. Furthermore, a stronger technological-based infrastructure improves America’s standing in the ever competitive global economy.
We also believe that there is a need to have stronger price regulations for all telecommunications firms. Because of recent mergers and monopolies in the telecommunications industry, the cost of Internet access has become cost prohibitive even for those Americans considered middle-income. Having affordable Internet access is in the best interest of all Americans.
This is an interactive map that shows how income level correlates with Internet access.