The president used his trip to the Sooner State to announce a pilot program, ConnectHome, that would bring high-speed internet access to more families as part of his ConnectED initiative.
For now, ConnectHome comprises 27 cities and one Indian tribe (the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) that have agreed to aggressively pursue equipping those in need with high-speed Internet connections.
As indicated by an analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, released on Wednesday, almost two-thirds of households among the lowest-income quintile of Americans owns a computer, but less than half have a subscription with an internet service provider.
The Obama administration has made expanding broadband access a priority in 2015.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Guests listen as President Obama speaks about economic opportunities at Durant High School in Durant, Oklahoma, in the Choctaw Nation. As companies like Google and Facebook work to expand internet access around the world, programs like ConnectEd and ConnectHome are hoping to do the same right here at home. Google Fiber, for instance, will provide free monthly home Internet service to select public housing communities in Atlanta, Durham, Kansas City, and Nashville.
Without high-speed Internet in their homes, Obama said, people miss out on business and educational opportunities, putting the already-disadvantaged even further behind the middle class. For low-income and middle-class students, not having access to the internet can make completing homework more difficult. Other companies, including Sprint Corp. and CenturyLink Inc., will offer free plans or monthly prices as low as $9.95, as mentioned by a White House statement.
Obama officially will announce the program on a visit to Durant, Okla., part of the Choctaw Nation, which also will participate.
Ideally, this will boost the U.S.in global rankings for broadband Internet adoption, up from its current spot in 16th place.
Private and public institutions have pledged to invest $70 million in the plan, including a $50,000 federal grant.
“Although families from a few backgrounds were less likely to use the Internet to communicate with schools, all adolescents demonstrated more positive outcomes when their families utilized this technology”, the study said.
And that’s where he introduced the Connect Home initiative to the people who will benefit the most.
More than 90 percent of households headed by a college graduate have Internet access, Obama said. The open-source project GitHub is offering $250,000 to help with “digital literacy”, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will produce new content to improve children’s digital literacy, and the American Library Association will provide on-site training.