TR Member Perks!

President Obama recently announced ConnectHome, a new program which aims to bring cheap High-Speed internet to low-income households. The President states that the impetus for this program is a growing “homework gap” between homes that have internet access and those that don’t. Research by the White House Council of Economic indicates that less than half of low-income  households have an internet connection.

Students without access to the Internet are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing research for homework assignments. While in the past students would have relied more on libraries for research, it is undeniable that research using online resources is quicker and offers access to information orders of magnitude greater than can be found in any library. Aside from research, the internet can be used to communicate with teachers during after school hours, and obtain valuable assistance.

ConnectHome will start as a pilot program, and will launch in 27 cities and one tribal nation. It is expected to bring internet access to 200,000 children.  If successful, it will likely be expanded to bring internet access to even more households. This program works in tandem with ConnectED, a program designed to bring about greater internet access to students. ConnectED was announced in 2013, and works to bring internet access to more schools and libraries. The goal of ConnectED is to reach 99% of students  by 2018.

The Obama Administration is cooperating with many private sector companies with this initiative. At some locations Google Fiber will provide free internet access to low-income families, while at others it can be purchased for the low price of $9.95 a month. Tablets with educational software installed will be available for $30 at Macon, Georgia. Other locations will have access free SAT preparation resources.

Do you agree with this program to bring Internet to low-income families? Or is the government overstepping its purpose? Leave your comments below.

Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Just like he brought health insurance to all the people who can’t afford it by increasing costs on health insurance to companies (so people either have their company plan canceled outright or their pay increases are eaten to pay for it) and outright adding new taxes to medical devices so they cost more?

  • BurntToShreds

    Enacting a program to provide low-cost Internet is much more straightforward than attempting to reform the massive clusterfuck of red tape and special interests that is the US healthcare system.

  • Psichaos

    This pretty much sums up my thoughts on this. It sounds good and noble. but if enacted would have terrible consequences to regular consumers, especially with cable companies trying to find every reason to nickel and dime consumers to begin with. This could also serve to dismantle the net neutrality agreement the FCC ruled in favor of, no way would the current cable oligarchy provide the same service and internet to those under this program, and honestly would be pretty unfair to paying customers if it were. That would give them the incentive to finally push that terrible “tiered internet” pipe dream that the US cable companies have long held onto.

  • plakia

    It will probably be payed for through tax dollars so the internet companies still get payed. Internet should just be a public utility at this point. Or at the very least we should have the monopolies dismantled and the dividing up of territory disallowed.

  • sickbroski

    Public wifi would make so much more sense.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Even Michael Pachter could tell you adding 100% brand spaken new taxes on medical equipment is a really stupid way to lower medical costs.

    Obamacare was always a plot to destroy the American health care system (more than the government already had) to make people dependent on the government

  • Psichaos

    It’d still be pretty unfair for taxpayers who pay for cable internet, as now they’re effectively paying for someone else’s free or discounted internet on top of their own cable access. Having it a public utility does mitigate this issue, but considering the US has a nasty habit of data hoovering even with privatized internet, it might not be the best course of action if you value internet privacy. I’m more in favor of dismantling the mega corporations and their forced duopolies and having a good number of small businesses compete in a region to provide internet. At least then you might get some actual competition that would drive prices low enough to be affordable for low income as opposed to the price fixing we see today that makes it more expensive than it ought to be.

  • Erthwjim

    I think the cities have a lot more to do with the monopolies the internet companies have than the companies themselves. Have you ever been to a place that has more than one cable company in the same area? Cox covers specific areas, comcast others, time warner, etc… The competition is between the types of internet, cable vs dsl vs google fiber (where it’s available), so it’s not really a monopoly per se, because there are other options. But setting that aside, the question would be, why are there no shared cable lines? Why can’t comcast and cox compete with each other? or even more than one cable line for providers to use? I’ve heard that has a lot to do with regulations that have been set in place by the government.

  • Erthwjim

    It will end up being like Financial Aid, the low income get the free internet (grants), the higher income can afford it, and then you have the people that can’t really afford internet (due to other bills), but their income is too high to qualify for the free net, so they’re SOL in this case. So it still won’t help everyone, it will just get people to vote for a specific political party.

  • MRAlias

    More free stuff for illegals basically.

  • liberalunionist

    In my experience, the internet has done more harm than good to research skills- particularly among the lower end of the ability spectrum, which sadly too often correlates to income. Many students seem to be pretty much incapable of planning and organising any research more taxing than simply typing keywords into Google. They react with literal horror when you tell them they will have to leave the house to visit a library, or suggest that they might have to read a whole book and engage with its argument. They also have a distressing tendency to take as gospel whatever is said in the first convenient result they find, instead of looking for multiple viewpoints and challenging them. The internet is useful, true, but only when used correctly: it’s hardly the panacea that this programme suggests.

  • Typical

    Where do you think tax dollars come from? You think a country in debt is going to just magic up some more tax money? No, once again, people who have worked hard get screwed.

  • Typical

    The problem with the monopolies being broken up is even WITH a completely free and open system, running cables and suck is expensive internet and telecom is a very resource and labor intensive business and initial infrastructure costs are very high.

  • Typical

    You’re probably wasting your time, these kids these days don’t understand costs and true costs, they just think it’s compassionate to give free shit to poor people because the evil rich need to pay more. Never mind that it’s the poor that actually aren’t “paying their fair share” in our system.

  • Typical

    it’s all part of the grand conspiracy to lead us to the autocratic regime we’re heading for. Critical thinking and questioning authority is much harder than just taking answers presented to you. Like the nitwit on the Miss America pageant that said politicians should tell people what’s the right thing to do.

  • cypher20

    Well the blurb doesn’t give a lot of information and like most liberal ideas it sure “sounds good”, will it actually work as advertised? Ha, I doubt it if high-speed rail and Obamacare are any guide.

    Is the gov’t overstepping its purpose? Yeah but it has been for years now. People seem to have decided rights are things the gov’t are supposed to give them which is foolish and simply gives the gov’t power over you. The Constitution as originally envisioned makes it clears rights are something you have by being human and it’s trying to protect you FROM the gov’t.

    Not that I’m against the gov’t helping people at all, there are situations where it is probably the best way to go. Say, in caring for the mentally disabled, hard to turn a profit there so it makes sense to have gov’t assist in something like that. Internet access . . . meh, those same public libraries now have internet access so I’m skeptical. Overall, gov’t as it stands is simply too big but unless there is a massive cultural shift and people “see the light”, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  • mbits

    If there’s one thing low-income households need, it is access to the internet, so that they can spend endless hours on Facebook and jerking it to porn all night long instead of getting out there and looking for a job, looking for a better job, or educating themselves to have a better chance at raising their stakes in life.

  • Awesome, I hope that this can be added in by the time his term’s up; because this would be great for those who constantly worry about the bills (like myself).

  • Corey Graham

    I’ve heard that has a lot to do with regulations that have been set in place by the government.

    That’s true for most “private” monopolies. If just a few companies have a large market share despite offering subpar service, chances are, they have special government privileges and/or the government has erected barriers of entry with strict regulations.

  • Corey Graham

    Students without access to the Internet are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing research for homework assignments.

    Why bother getting an education and working on your career when the government’s just gonna provide you with free and/or low-cost services anyway? This is how nations stagnate and become mediocre.

  • ParasiteX

    Yeah, i agree. What would make more sense, would be if he broke up the insane monopolies your ISPs hold right now. And make internet more affordable.

  • ParasiteX

    Well free health care is inherently not a bad thing. Sweden used to manage it fairly fine. Tho it works very differently from the bureaucratic mess that is Obamacare… I never have to worry about costs when going to the doctor, or needing the right insurance. Waiting lines can maybe be a bit long if not a critical condition.
    But recently our welfare system is being completely crippled by the insane mass immigration spewing into our country.. Soo probably not the best example of free health care in action.. it used to be a great example… but sadly not anymore..
    Welfare state and mass immigration is not the greatest of combos..

  • Typical
  • David Fitzsimmons

    Not getting enough info on this thing. Personally I see this most likely being obama care all over again negatively impacting everyone else for the sake of giving a confusing and poorly executed service for a group.

    I mean what kind of service will he be providing? a competent service? that will really impact everyone and then be kinda unfair in the end when they don’t have to worry about juggling the costs of that service while the families that just BARELY do not make the cut have to struggle paying for a lower end service.

    Ideally the service should be super basic, and low tier. But of course that causes problems in low income households with the data being used up by those who are not students. That’s a big thing to me too. It is GREAT you want to help kids excel Obama, but let’s face cold hard reality. It is the PARENTS of the low income families who will utilize it the most and not to any benefit either.

    To me the ideal solution is to upgrade libraries, or even replace them with internet shops/cafes/whatever you want to call them. Focus on making the internet and ways to use it as easily and cheaply availble as possible. You could have subscription services and what not that are heavily discounted, if not waived to students. Look at the past and what Libraries were created to do in the first place, to serve as a place to store and peruse written knowledge that the average person can get at.

    In the past only the richest families could afford the best education because that required essentially personal libraries. Governments could not provide every citizen with that so they made sure to start building more and more libraries and ensured libraries were built in schools as well. It is FAR more cost effective to give such services to those who can’t afford it in a single easily accessed space rather then in every home.

    Not to mention what is Obama going to do about the low income families who can’t even AFFORD a computer to use their governement provided net? Give everyone a netbook? What happens when the governement provided netbook breaks down often from improper use?

    There are too many variables and facotrs that can make this good natured goal a real problem, that is more easily solved by improving the public services.