Urban Core Gets Computer Savvy Before Getting Google Fiber

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Neighborhoods that have signed up for Google Fiber in Kansas City's urban core have one major dilemma. Many homes don't have computers. But that could change.

Google said it's going to provide grants to help teach people how to use the Internet. And in neighborhoods where computers are far less common than televisions, they're making plans to turn that around. In the coming weeks more and more people are going to be frequenting computer labs for lessons on how to operate the Internet.

Neighborhood Association President Phyllis Ray said people are excited.

"The service that's here is going to help us teach people how to use the actual hardware as well as how to surf the net safely," she said. "We're excited. It's kind of a total package and that's what we need in our neighborhood."

Ray said up to 40 percent of people in Blue Hills are senior citizens and they're the largest growing group who are using the Internet. And those without computers may soon be getting one. The neighborhood group has a deal with the University of Missouri Kansas City to buy surplus computers for homeowners at a cost of $60 each. But Ray admits closing the digital divide won't happen overnight.

"They are having issues with using the mouse and getting the mouse to go where they need it to go," she said. "And, so, we have some hurdles, but I think our neighborhood is behind Google Fiber and what it's going to bring to us."

Ray said senior citizens wouldn't have this opportunity if Blue Hills didn't get grants from non-profit groups to register homes for Google Fiber -- homes where people wouldn't register on their own due to cost and the lack of computers.

Blue Hills received at least $850 in grants to register 85 homes it needed to qualify for Google Fiber.

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