Congressman Cleaver Works to Close the Digital Divide, Expand Internet Access in Low-Income Communities

Feb 5, 2015
Press Release

Today, Congressman Cleaver called on Google to expand internet access in low-income communities. On March 30, 2011, after a competitive selection process, both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas were selected as launch sites for the Fiber project. By September 2012, the results of the pre-registration process were clear. Nearly all the neighborhoods that failed to qualify for the service were located east of Troost Avenue, the city’s historical socioeconomic dividing line.

“Without a doubt, the investment that Google has made into Fiber in Kansas City has been an economic and entrepreneurial boon,” stated Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. “And while programs such as the Digital Inclusion Fund are making a real impact, the twenty-five percent of Kansas Citians who do not have internet access at home are being left behind. Digital registration for the digital-divided has proved to be ineffective. Preliminary statistics suggest the beginning of potential ‘digital redlining’ in Kansas City. As Google Fiber expands into new cities, Google remains uniquely positioned to be a leader in closing the digital divide. As the newly appointed Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, one of my top priorities will be to ensure that low-income and vulnerable communities have the resources they need to succeed and remain free from digital redlining. I urge Google to work with the Kansas City Housing Authority, among other community stakeholders, to address this problem. Together, we can make Kansas City the national model for connecting the unconnected, and expanding opportunity for our constituents and communities.”

Congressman Cleaver’s letter is available here. According to the Wall Street Journal, just 10 percent of low-income neighborhoods subscribed to 1 gigabit Google Fiber and 5 percent to the 5 megabit service. In comparison, 42 percent of residents in middle and higher income neighborhoods took advantage of the 1 gigabit service, while 11 percent use the slower option.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.