Google Fiber needs to include low-income families in buildout strategy, says Nashville pastor

Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) may have set Nashville, Tennessee as one of its FTTH destinations, but a group of local pastors are worried that the service provider will leave out lower-income families out of their deployment strategy.

Rev. Frank Stevenson, a pastor at St. Luke's Primitive Baptist Church in Nashville, according to a report in The Tennessean, hopes Google Fiber won't cherry pick more affluent communities to build out FTTH while ignoring lower income neighborhoods.

"In this land of fast-moving access, to not have access puts us at a disadvantage," Stevenson said during a recent news event with a group of church and elected officials.

Similar to other cities and towns in the United States, Nashville's concern over the so-called digital divide has risen in recent years as community leaders see how internet access has become a tool for education, health care, and job searches.

According to statistics gathered by The Tennessean, nearly 44 percent of Nashville metro students did not have an internet connection as of 2013. This prevents students from completing homework assignments that their teachers are putting online.

By not having internet access inside their homes, students face what FCC Commissioner calls the homework gap. The homework gap effectively has hindered a large base of college and high school students from being able to complete homework assignments because they could not get access to a broadband connection.

For its own part, Google Fiber has recognized this issue in several of the communities where it has committed to build out its FTTH service.

By targeting its FTTH deployments based on density and demand, a number of low-income areas did not get access to the service, prompting the service provider to offer free internet and digital training.

Beginning in May, Google launched a symmetrical 25 Mbps broadband service option for low income neighborhood residents in Kansas City, Mo. Under that plan, eligible customers can get a symmetrical 25 Mbps service for $15 a month.

Earlier, Google Fiber joined CenturyLink and Cox to participate in the Obama administration ConnectHome program. ConnectHome is a program launched by the White House and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with the goal of providing Internet connectivity to more school-aged children and families living in HUD-assisted housing in 28 communities across the country.

Under that plan, Google Fiber will provide free Internet services in four of the 28 community targets HUD selected--including Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Nashville and Kansas City, Kan.

For more:
- The Tennessean has this article

Related articles:
Google Fiber to bring Internet access to low-cost residents in its fiber markets
Google Fiber unveils 25 Mbps broadband plan for low-income families
CenturyLink, Cox Connect participate in President Obama's ConnectHome initiative
AT&T will offer low-cost broadband to get DirecTV deal approved
Comcast increasing Internet Essentials speeds to 5 Mbps