President Obama: “The Internet Is Not A Luxury, It Is A Necessity”

A lot of people are aware that third-world countries still need Internet access. That’s why there’s Facebook’s sometimes controversial What not a lot of people are aware of is that one out of every four people living in the U.S. don’t have Internet at home.

One in four.

When I heard that census data, I was floored. I had first heard this thrown out as an anecdote when I visited Kansas City a few years ago, but it’s true. The White House wants to change this through its new ConnectHome initiative.

Its mission:

Every child should be given the same opportunity to build a brighter future and to achieve their dreams.

Internet in the home can help build that brighter future by connecting families with information they need to get ahead in school and career life.

There are quite a few reasons why not everyone in the United States has Internet access at home (mind you, 98 percent of Americans have access to Internet of some sort), but a lot of it has to do with where you live and how affluent a neighborhood you live in. Some of it has to do with race:

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Google has gotten involved in the ConnectHome project by offering $0 monthly home Internet service to residents in select public housing authority properties through its Google Fiber project.

Here are a few more initiatives that are now in motion:

– In select communities of Choctaw Tribal Nation, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will work together to ensure that over 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents have access to low-cost, high-speed internet.

– In Seattle, and across its coverage footprint, CenturyLink will make broadband service available to HUD households, via its Internet Basics program, for $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month for the next four years.

– In Macon, Meriden, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, Cox Communications will offer home Internet service for $9.95 per month to eligible K-12 families residing in public housing authorities.

– As part of its existing ConnectED commitment, Sprint will work with HUD and the ConnectHome program to make its free wireless broadband Internet access service program available to eligible K-12 students living in public housing. This builds upon the free mobile broadband service previously committed to low-income students by AT&T and Verizon, for ConnectED.

Obviously it will take many initiatives in many locations over a good chunk of time to make a dent in the Internet-at-home problem, but if these companies who are committed today stay committed tomorrow, we have a shot.

“The Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Obama said today during his ConnectHome announcement today in Oklahoma.


“People aren’t born coders,” he went on to say. “They learn.”

The Internet is where people go to learn, and more people with access to it at home is key. Watch Obama’s announcement below: