A midwestern U.S. city has one of the fastest broadband connections in the world, on par with Hong Kong. That’s because four years ago, Google Fiber selected Kansas City, Mo., for the roll-out of its broadband network at speeds 100 times faster than anywhere in the county. Despite its warp-speed leap into the future, however, Kansas City still boasts a racial digital divide that tracks with its 20th century residential segregation of African-American and Latino residents. The disparity is one that’s renewing conversations around barriers to Internet access for all low-income communities of color and their ability to effectively compete in the global information economy. Seventy percent of public school students, according to local tech nonprofit Connecting for Good, do not have Internet access at home.
There’re a number of reasons for low adoption, as Fast Company reports. Major barriers include price (comparatively low, but not low enough for owners of buildings with low-income tenants, including public housing) and a perception among residents that the Internet–compared to paying rent or buying food–isn’t a necessity.