The programme, called ConnectHome, is designed to bridge the so-called digital divide between poorer residents in cities and their wealthier neighbours.
Google will offer some residents of public housing communities free subscriptions to Google Fiber. Firms including CenturyLink and Sprint will offer free plans or prices as low as $9.95 (€9.03) a month, according to a White House statement.
Companies and private groups have committed to spending $70m over the next few years on the programme, and a $50mn federal grant will extend broadband to the Choctaw Tribal Nation, Julian Castro, secretary of the department of housing and urban development, told reporters yesterday.
“Over half of lowest income Americans don’t have internet at home,” said Jeff Zeints, national economic council director. “That’s unacceptable.”
The president has made expanding broadband access a priority, pushing for more airwaves for mobile internet access and greater funding for high-speed internet in schools.
A study released by the Council of Economic Advisors said that the use of the internet in homes drops off significantly in communities with lower incomes. Affluent areas have adoption rates above 80%. Those with lower median household incomes have rates of around 50%.
As part of ConnectHome, businesses will provide digital literacy classes in communities, and the department of housing and urban development will require new public housing developments to support broadband.
ConnectHome will start as a test project in 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, based in Durant.