July 01, 2012
Jason Harper, The Kansas City Public Library
Connecting for Good Proposal Turned Down
Proactivity has been the trend as Kansas Citians gear up for Google Fiber high-speed broadband to the home. But one neighborhood nonprofit has encountered an obstacle in its dream to provide access to disadvantaged citizens.
Last week, the Kansas City Star reported that Connecting for Good, a KC nonprofit dedicated to closing the digital divide, had teamed up with the Rosedale Neighborhood Association to create a wi-fi community network and also build an “e-community center” in an area of KCK where Internet access is financially out of the question for most residents.
The proposed “wi-fi cooperative” would, in concept, carve Google’s massive broadband service into smaller, slower, and more affordable conduits that could be accessed by users who likely won’t be able to afford a full Fiber connection to their homes. Meanwhile, a cost-sharing community center would be built to serve as a hub for educating citizens about technology.
In the June 21 article, Google spokesperson Jenna Wandres applauded the Rosedale collective for “thinking about how to get everyone in the community online.” However, a follow-up piece that ran in the June 28 Star reported that Google has turned down the Rosedale plan.
“Digital inclusion is a priority for us,” said Wandres told the Star. “That being said, we haven’t yet announced specifics about Google Fiber product offerings, and it’s premature for any organization to make any plans around specific networking components.”
Despite this setback, the Rosedale group sounds undeterred in their desire to connect the community. The group told the paper that it intends to go ahead with its e-community center, and it will look at other options for a mesh network if Google Fiber won’t be available as a solution.
Update, 7/2: Echoing the frustration of many in the community, Star columnist Mary Sanchez wrote an editorial critiquing Google's rejection of the Rosedale plan, in which she also voiced concerns about the delayed arrival of Google Fiber.