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Google Rolls Out Free Gigabit Internet Service to Public Housing

Many of us might take high-speed Internet access for granted, but for low-income folks it's a luxury they simply can't afford. Google hopes to pick up some of that slack.

The company on Wednesday began rolling out a program that will provide free, super-fast Internet connections to people who live in public housing. The first recipients: residents of 100 apartments at the West Bluff housing complex in Kansas City, Missouri. They'll be able to connect to gigabit Internet service via Google Fiber, at no cost to them or to the Housing Authority of Kansas City.

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Eventually, Google hopes to connect up to nine low-income properties in the Kansas City metro area. It then intends to expand the gigabit program to affordable housing communities in the other cities where Google Fiber service is already available (Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas) or planned (Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham).

It's an extension of a partnership Google announced last year with ConnectHome, a program launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the White House to bring Internet access to more school-age children and families living in public housing.

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"The U.S. has some of the most expensive broadband in the world, while lagging far behind other countries in Internet speeds. And for families in affordable housing, cost can be one of the biggest barriers to getting online," Dennis Kish, vice president for Google Fiber, said in a blog post.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, some 34 million Americans still lack access to broadband, which the agency defines as a 25 megabit connection for download and 3 megabits for upload.