Is free WiFi a human right?
The Future. Nonprofit EducationSuperHighway has bold plans to provide free WiFi for low-income households all over the country. At a low cost to landlords, WiFi access could turn internet connectivity into an expected utility no different than water or gas.
Plug in citizen
If a nonprofit has its way, people won’t have to hole up at their local Starbucks just to get on the internet.
- EducationSuperHighway debuted a new campaign called “No Home Left Offline,” which details a plan to provide free WiFi to low-income households and apartment complexes.
- The nonprofit is pitching itself as a simpler option to the bureaucracy-laden government program that provide internet access, such as the Federal Communications Commission.
- But of course, EducationSuperHighway is asking for federal funding to get the ambitious project up and running. It has already raised $16 million from firms such as Emerson Collective and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
EducationSuperHighway estimates that 37 million households could be eligible for its program. To start, the firm will outfit 127 buildings in Oakland, California, with free WiFi for residents… at the cost of $100 for landlords.
CEO Evan Marwell said that he wants EducationSuperHighway to make residential WiFi as expected and ingrained as the free WiFi found in “hotel lobbies or libraries.” It’s a noble cause when 20-25% of “America’s most unconnected communities” live in apartments.
The move toward universal access to WiFI makes sense in an increasingly digital world. In order to sign up for programs, apply for jobs, or even access financial tools, Internet access is quickly becoming a priority — and the federal government knows it. The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides monthly subsidies of $50 for internet access, and President Biden’s Build Back Better bill has billions earmarked for low-cost internet connectivity.