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Google Is Giving Its Fiber Internet Away Free to Public Housing Residents

The second Obama-Alphabet tie-up in as many months.

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One of the biggest expenses for Alphabet this year will be Google Fiber, its super-fast broadband and cable service — that’s what Alphabet’s CFO told investors on Monday. Setting up the fiber service isn’t cheap.

Another reason: Google is giving some of it away.

On Wednesday, Fiber announced it was teaming with the Obama Housing Department to set up public housing residents with gigabit connections, free of charge. The pair unveiled the initiative in July as part of the Obama push to expand Internet connectivity. But now they’re giving more details, including upgraded products like pre-wired jacks inside the buildings and free network boxes that permit connections to smartphones and tablets (if there’s no computers in the home).

Also, Fiber is pledging to bring this benevolence to public housing facilities in every city where it exists. That’s nine where Fiber has broken ground or committed to, and 11 others where it is “exploring” doing so. Fiber is starting in Kansas City, its first market, where it has linked up 1,300 families in nine properties. It isn’t ready to share numbers on the properties elsewhere, per a Fiber rep.

Fiber is part of the Access unit of Alphabet, although it will likely become its own subsidiary this year. Its intent is to spur the broadband industry to speed up connections — or cut these Internet providers out as middlemen between Google and Web users. Which intent is primary depends on whom you talk to.

The public housing plan marks the second big Alphabet collaboration with the Obama administration in as many months. In January, the company’s self-driving car unit stood beside the administration announcement of a $4 billion budget for autonomous cars.

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