WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is set to announce a pilot project on Wednesday to expand broadband access for people who live in public housing, his administration’s latest push to narrow the “digital divide” between the rich and poor.
Working with mayors, Internet service providers and other companies and non-profit organizations, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will make it cheaper and easier for more than 275,000 low-income households with almost 200,000 children to get home Internet, the White House said in a statement.
Private and public institutions have pledged to invest $70 million in the plan, including a $50,000 federal grant, Julian Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told reporters on a conference call.
Obama is set to speak about the program in Durant, Oklahoma, where the Choctaw Tribal Nation is working with four local providers to bring the Internet to 425 homes.
The program will also launch in 27 other communities, mainly in large cities, the White House said.
In Atlanta, Durham, Kansas City and Nashville, Google will provide free Internet connections in some public housing areas.
In select markets, Sprint Corp will offer free wireless broadband access to families with kids in public housing. In Seattle, CenturyLink Inc will provide broadband service for public housing residents for $9.95 a month for the first year.
Cox Communications Inc [COXC.UL] is offering home Internet for $9.95 a month to families with kids in school in four cities in Georgia, Louisiana and Connecticut.
The program also includes free training and technical support. Best Buy Co Inc will offer free training to the Choctaw Tribal Nation and in some cities, the White House said.
Reporting by Alex Wilts and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Ryan Woo and Alan Crosby