The Buzz

Emanuel Cleaver urges Google to close Kansas City’s digital divide


Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver on Thursday called on Google to close Kansas City’s burgeoning digital divide.

In a letter to Google exec Larry Page, the Democrat said the 25 percent of Kansas Citians who lack internet access at home “are being left behind” and programs aimed at addressing this are ineffective.

Most of those folks live east of Troost, Cleaver noted.

“Preliminary statistics suggest the beginning of potential ‘digital redlining’ in Kansas City,” Cleaver wrote. “As Google Fiber expands into new cities, Google remains uniquely positioned to be a leader in closing the digital divide.”

Cleaver said as the new ranking Democrat on the Housing and Insurance subcommittee in the House, he’ll be focusing on the issue.

He pointed to stats that show that 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 subscribe to the 1-gigabit service, while 11 percent use the slower option.

“Together, we can make Kansas City the national model for connecting the unconnected, and expanding opportunity for our constituents and communities,” Cleaver said.