Google Fiber’s Kansas City experiment runs into digital divide
With Google’s promise last year to wire homes, schools, libraries and other public institutions in this city with the nation’s fastest Internet connection, community leaders on the long forlorn, predominantly black east side were excited, seeing a potentially uplifting force. They anticipated new educational opportunities for their children and an incentive for developers to build in their communities.
But in July, Google announced a process in which only those areas where enough residents pre-registered and paid a $10 deposit would get the service, Google Fiber.
While nearly all of the affluent, mostly white neighborhoods here quickly got enough registrants, a broad swath of black communities lagged. The deadline to sign up was midnight Sunday.
The specter that many blacks in this city might not get access to this technology has inflamed the long racial divide here, stoking concern that it could deepen.
“This is just one more example of people that are lower-income, sometimes not higher-educated people, being left behind,” said Margaret May, executive director of the neighborhood council in Ivanhoe, where the poverty rate was more than 46 percent in 2009. “It makes me very sad.”