Many of the Gigabit Fiber projects around the country are being deployed to neighborhoods with a build-to-demand approach. A recent Bernstein Research survey found that adoptions of the new Gigabit Fiber service varies with income, and higher income neighborhoods can show higher adoption rates. This stirs up questions about whether residents of poor or underserved neighborhoods will be left behind.
Yesterday a Wall Street Journal article focused on the issue of digital divide. The lower adoption rate of Gigabit service in lower income neighborhoods doesn't seem to be deterring Google Fiber. Their General Manager for Kansas City said that of the city's 20 lowest-income areas, 19 qualified for Google's fiber service. Some city officials are now requiring the ISPs to offer free service to schools, libraries and community centers as they build out their networks.
The ISPs seem to be stepping up. Google Fiber agreed to offer service in "economically distressed" neighborhoods and offers a slower service that is free for seven years, after a $300 installation fee. In North Carolina, AT&T also agreed to provide free service for seven years for up to 100 community centers, though cities or outside groups will have to pay connection costs.
It is clear that city officials and the ISPs are aware of the digital divide issue, and are making steps to address it. But will it be enough? Local organizations like Connecting for Good in Kansas City are stepping in to help. Connecting for Good is a nonprofit organization that has been bridging the Digital Divide since 2011 with wireless mesh networks, community technology centers, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes.
For more information on the topics read the full Wall Street Journal article here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/google-fuels-internet-access-plus-debate-1408731700