Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Best River Walk Restaurant

Best River Walk Restaurant

Best of SA 2012: 4/25/2012
Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Guide: It’s almost summer, which means that your government-subsidized free daycare (aka public school) goes on hiatus thanks to an archaic allegiance to a rural agriculture economic system that hasn’t been in play for decades. What to do with the wee ones whining 5/21/2014
How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

How Rebates Have the Texas Film Industry Playing Catch Up To its Neighbors

Screens: See if you can spot the common thread that is pulling at the seams of the Texas film industry. On NBC’s The Night Shift, a stock-written staff... By Matt Stieb 8/27/2014
Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Arts & Culture: In one of the final chapters of his book To Selena, With Love (out March 6), Selena's widower Chris Perez mentions that Abraham Quintanilla, his former father-in-law, once... By Enrique Lopetegui 3/7/2012

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email


Will Google Fiber Bridge San Antonio's Digital Divide?

Photo: Courtesy of the Open Technology Institute, License: N/A

Courtesy of the Open Technology Institute

The map reveals disparities in internet access along socio-economic and geographical lines

Another significant problem Liimatta’s group ran into is, ironically, the “affordable option.” Assuming an apartment renter can afford the one-time $300 construction fee for “free” basic broadband internet, they must rely on enough of their neighbors to sign up (due to that ‘demand-driven’ model) and for landlords to opt in, creating a sizable hurdle for any renter living in multifamily low-income housing—and conversely, a much lower barrier for a homeowner. In Kansas City, says Liimatta, Section 8 and public housing property managers simply have not done this. To date, 25 percent of Kansas City area residents still don’t have broadband internet access at home, according to Connecting For Good.

“We have been left to figure out how to keep the underserved in our community from falling too much farther behind as those in the predominately white middle-class suburbs are racing around the internet with 100 times faster connections,” says Liimatta, who describes the digital divide as one of the “most important social justice issues” of our time.

In response, his group and other tech nonprofit partners have taken matters into their own hands by offering free wi-fi in well-trafficked public places, hosting public access computer labs and even building their own wi-fi network in underserved inner-city communities. The organization has already built wi-fi networks for more than 500 low-income public housing and Section 8 households.

While Google did not share subscriber numbers, they say 90 percent of “Fiberhoods” in Kansas City that were eligible for fiber qualified for it and can receive the service. Wandres tempers Liimatta’s reality, noting many of those previously disconnected are now online thanks to Google. “We have seen a lot of people in Kansas City who never had the internet before choose to get that product,” says Wandres. “We’ve heard really great things from them about how they have been able to use the web at home for the first time.”

Still, Google acknowledges not only the ongoing digital divide in Kansas City, but its national implications.

“We do care deeply about getting more people online so they can benefit from the web; that is important to us,” says Wandres. “There’s still a digital divide out there and it is an incredibly complicated problem. We are working with communities to tackle it together.”

In surveys conducted in Kansas City, Google found most who are still offline are so largely by choice. “We’ve also learned that even if access to the web is affordable, they don’t see it as relevant to their lives or don’t have the digital literacy skills to use it,” says Wandres.

The tech giant partners with local groups and grassroots organizers to provide digital literacy skills and training, and has worked with other local companies to create a “digital inclusion fund” to subsidize nonprofits that provide digital literacy. As for the “affordable option” obstacle for low-income renters, Wandres says Google is committed to ensuring price isn’t a barrier and cost isn’t set in stone (pricing has yet to be announced in Austin, for example). “We don’t want affordability to become a hurdle, so we work with landlords to determine pricing and availability.”

Recently in News
  • Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women Texas’ sweeping abortion law has already eliminated all abortion clinics south of San Antonio, and the last clinic west of the city... | 8/27/2014
  • Cityscrapes: A race to the convention floor “Conventions go to the city which exerts the greatest efforts to secure them. San Antonio can get any convention that it goes after.” That was the position... | 8/27/2014
  • Mayoral Horserace Once elected next spring, San Antonio’s new mayor will have just a few months to prepare for the 2016 budget... | 8/27/2014
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus