KANSAS CITY -- There's been a lot of attention focused on bridging the digital divide ever since Google decided to bring its high-speed fiber service to Kansas City. Now, Time Warner Cable says it will provide home internet access to students who've never had it before for less than $10 a month.
The company says that there are no family income restrictions with this offer. If you don't have home internet access and have kids in school in the Shawnee Mission, Kansas City Kansas, Kansas City Missouri or six other metro school districts, you can get broadband for about $10 a month.
"Taking steps to expand internet access is the right thing to do," said Perry Watson, vice president of operation for Time Warner Cable.
This is the latest salvo fired in an increasingly competitive battle for internet subscribers. You'll often find students working online at the library because they don't have internet access at home. Time Warner Cable says it's offering 85,000 students across the metro area broadband speeds up to 5 megabytes per second for about $10 a month for two years.
"Kansas City is a little late to the party," Watson said. "But we're happy that we're launching it."
Time Warner also launched a Wi-Fi hotspot network at 14 locations across the metro where it's customers can connect wirelessly for free. Both the mayors of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, believe increasing connectivity is the key to increasing economic growth in the region.
"There's offerings now that are seeking to resolve the digital divide, which we know is very real here," said Mayor Joe Reardon of the Unified Government in Kansas City, Ks. "And real opportunities coming to those kids and those families that don't have it today."
Time Warner's starter internet is just as fast as the 5 megabyte per second service Google is offering for $25 a month for 1 year and then free for the next 6 years. But Time Warner believes lower initial costs will connect more poor families over a wider area than Google is serving.
Time Warner also says as it expands it's services it plans to hire 75 new employees during the first quarter of next year.