Will Google Fiber Create Digital Divide?
KANSAS CITY — Spiritual leaders from across the metro met on Tuesday to make sure people in the inner city aren’t left behind as Google comes to the metro. Neighborhood leaders worry that a digital divide could be created around Troost Avenue between people who can afford Google Fiber and those who cannot.
A group of African-American leaders says there’s a lack of understanding within the Black community about what a gigabit speed means. It’s 100 times faster than anything currently available but some have said they’re happy with their cable t-v service or that the internet is moving fast enough for them.
“Mainly they are concerned about the cost. And they are still saying ‘I’m getting what I need, what do I need speed for?’ And so they don’t understand,” said Rev. Ralph Gordon Wright.
Another community leader agrees.
“$300 per household is a lot to ask of a community who truly does not understand,” said Rev. Ralph Wright. “We must get into educating and learn more ourselves so we can deal with that properly.”
For generations Troost Ave. has been known as a racial dividing line for Kansas City. Google says for urban core kids who already face significant hurdles to make themselves marketable in today’s workforce, high-speed access to the information superhighway can be the great equalizer to help the next generation escape poverty and be successful.
“We see stories every day where there are kids sitting outside their school at midnight trying to catch WiFi from the school to do their homework,” said Phyllis Faulkner-Johnson, Google Fiber field marketing rep.
Ministers say cost is a barrier for many east of Troost but some are just now learning they can get current broadband speeds for only $25 a month for one year, and then it’s free for the next six years.
Google Fiber has been signing up neighborhoods in Kansas and Missouri. The service will be added in neighborhoods based on how many households sign up for the service.