President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. Credit: Official White House photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama revealed a new initiative Wednesday morning, ConncetHome, that will give local, high-speed broadband networks a boost to reach more families in one tribal nation and 27 cities across the country – and San Antonio is one of them.

The pilot program, operated through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – of which former Mayor Julián Castro is secretary – plans to reach more than 275,000 low-income households at first, about 200,000 children, “with the support they need to access the Internet at home,” according to a White House fact sheet released this morning.

“America’s challenge in this 21st century is to remain the world’s undisputed land of opportunity,” stated Secretary Castro. “By expanding broadband adoption, ConnectHome will provide more Americans with the same high-speed access to knowledge and opportunity that millions of people already enjoy.”

HUD will work with Internet Service Providers, nonprofits and the private sector across the U.S. to offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for students in public and assisted housing units.

“Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities,” according to the release.

Emily Bowe of Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation said the philanthropic organization has contributed $100,000 to the initiative.

Texas is one of several states that has legislative roadblocks in place that prevent municipalities from selling broadband to private citizens and businesses. It will be interesting to find out how this new program works with, around, or separate from this.

Other communities selected for the program:

Albany, GA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Meriden, CT; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.

We’ll updated this story as more details become available, President Obama will be giving a speech to highlight the initiative from Durant, Oklahoma located in the Choctaw Nation later in the day on Wednesday.

For now, here’s more from the press release:

“ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99% of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries over the next five years. ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.

Since the President took office, the private and public sectors have invested over $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Thanks to smart spectrum policies and world-leading technology, fast 4G wireless broadband is now available to over 98% of Americans — up from 0% since 2009.”

*Featured/top image: (File photo) President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

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Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org