Google has announced a roll out expansion of its coveted high-speed Internet service, but the installations aren’t happening where you might think.
On Wednesday, Google said it is bringing its gigabit fiber product into the homes of low-income residents free of charge. According to Google, the service will be delivered to “select” public housing buildings in each of the cities where it currently operates.
As with the original Google Fiber roll out, the service was first turned on in 100 homes at the West Bluff public housing property in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, the company said. Up to nine properties in the city are expected to be wired through the program, reaching some 1,300 families in the area.
“For low income families, access to the Internet can mean the difference between thriving or falling behind,” Google Fiber vice president Dennis Kish wrote in a Wednesday blog post. “For families in affordable housing, cost can be one of the biggest barriers to getting online. Alongside our ConnectHome partners, we’re proud to make some of the fastest Internet more available and accessible to those who need it most.”
To facilitate use of the service, Google said it has teamed up with local partners to offer device discounts and computer skills classes to families that sign up for the free gigabit Internet service in Kansas City.
Though Google has yet to announce which Google Fiber cities will be up next in the program, the company said it is currently working with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin to provide free Internet service, and is working with local partners to make investments in computer labs and digital literacy classes.
According to Google, the new fiber program is part of a larger initiative by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the White House, also known as ConnectHome, to bring Internet access to more than a quarter million low-income households across the country.
The ConnectHome pilot program is currently running in 28 communities, including 27 cities and one tribal nation. Cities involved in the program include Atlanta, Ga., Baltimore, Md., Boston, Mass., Camden, N.J., Cleveland, Ohio, Denver, Colo., Durham, N.C., Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Calif., Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans, La., New York, N.Y., San Antonio, Texas and Washington DC. The participating tribal partner is the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Google Fiber is currently available in Kansas City, Mo., Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas, with upcoming roll outs planned in Salt Lake City, Utah, San Antonio, Texas, Nashville, Tenn., Atlanta, Ga., Charlotte, N.C., and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Google has said it is exploring the possibility of deploying its internet service in eleven other cities, including Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Calif., Tampa, Fla. And Chicago, Ill.
Earlier this week, Alphabet revealed that Google Fiber installations account for the vast majority of its “Other Bets” capital expenditures (CapEx) and is one of the three top revenue producers in that segment.
In the fourth quarter, CapEx for all Other Bets, which include Google Fiber, Verily, Calico, Nest, self-driving cars and incubation activities in X, was $199 million.
Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said Monday Google Fiber will continue to be a driver of Other Bets CapEx going forward.