Five San Antonio public housing communities will soon have access to some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country, for free. Google Fiber and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday morning that five San Antonio Housing Authority developments will receive 1,000-megabits-per-second Internet service through ConnectHome. The federal initiative seeks to bridge the "digital divide" between socio-economic groups and opportunity by offering affordable and accessible Internet services to families living in HUD developments.
ConnectHome officials plan to bring Internet access and computer literacy to an estimated 200,000 children in 28 communities across the nation who live in public housing. San Antonio was officially named a ConnectHome city in July and a Google Fiber City in August. Google Fiber, which has yet to launch its gigabit Internet services for residential or commercial customers in San Antonio, is partnering HUD to roll out its fiber optic network.
A committee, comprised of Google Fiber and HUD staff, has been surveying potential housing projects and will soon select five for the pilot program.
Today's workforce must be able to use the Internet and master computer skills to succeed in the 21st century's global workplace, HUD Secretary and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said during a conference call with the press on Wednesday morning.
"Gigabit speed is the future of the Internet," said Google Fiber CEO Dennis Kish. "We see this as an investment in communities."
There is no established timeline for the selection of pilot program communities or when the Internet services will be installed, but HUD and Google Fiber staff said they would be looking at housing developments that already offer residents access to computers and computer literacy training.
“Through ConnectHome, we are bridging the digital divide for low-income families by providing free or low-cost broadband access, devices and digital literacy training,” said David Nisivoccia, SAHA interim president and CEO. “Our vision is to one day have all 5,700 public housing households connected to broadband Internet service and a personal device, and feel confident using it.”
HUD will also offer computer 101 for residents when their home is online to guide them on how best to use the Internet for school, research and job development. Castro aims to ensure a commitment to connect every public housing unit to the Internet by the end of his administration.
*Top Image: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julián Castro speaks to the crowd at Gardens of San Juan housing development during a visit in July 2015. Photo by Scott Ball.