Google Fiber Ending 'Free' Internet In Kansas City metro

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016

Google Fiber is doing away with an option for customers in Kansas City to get free monthly Internet if they paid a one-time construction fee up front.

However, for those who work with low-income families, they say the new option may actually be better.

Previously, customers in the Kansas City area could get 5 Mbps Internet - which is considered fairly slow compared to Google's other Internet speeds -  with no monthly cost if they paid for the $300 construction fee.

That option is no longer listed on Google Fiber's website, though the company said in an email that customers outside of east Johnson County in the KC area can still sign up for it until May 19. It will also offer a Broadband Internet 25 Mbps plan for $15 per month for "digitally divided areas" on both the Kansas and Missouri sides "determined using publicly available data from the U.S. Census and Federal Communications Commission (FCC)."

Nonprofit Connecting for Good works to help low-income communities make sure they have the same opportunities as others when it comes to Internet connection and accessibility.

Tom Esselman, CEO of Connecting for Good, explained, “In today's very digital society, we're committed to addressing those populations and making sure that they have every opportunity that anyone else has when it comes to Internet connections.”

Marvin S. Robinson II goes to the computer lab at the nonprofit organization because he can’t afford the Internet at home. He said, “It would be more or less like an extreme luxury.”

However, Connecting for Good, who is partnered with Google Fiber, thinks the new option will be better.

“I think a big part of that was there was a pretty high up front construction fee associated with what they were asking people to do and now they're saying, 'We're adapting,'" Esselman explained.

Still, even at $15 per month, that’s not a cost Robinson can afford. “I love Google but it was out of range when you don't have whatever the amount was.”

Google Fiber did not specify which neighborhoods would be included in the $15 per month option but said people can check their address at to determine their eligibility.

The cheapest option now listed is $50 per month for 100 Mbps.

Existing customers’ agreements will be honored for up to seven years.


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