Biden launches program to offer discounted internet services

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – The Biden administration announced Monday that 20 Internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to low-income people, a program that could effectively qualify tens of millions of households for free service through an already existing one. federal grant.

The $1 Trillion Infrastructure Package The Congress passed last year included $14.2 billion in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly grants ($75 in tribal areas) for Internet services for millions of lower-income households.

With the ISPs’ new commitment, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 subscriptions for 100 megabits per second service or faster speed — paying for Internet service in full with the government subsidy if they sign up with a service provider. of the providers participating in the program.

During his White House run and the push for the infrastructure bill, Biden made expanding high-speed Internet access into rural and low-income areas a priority. He has repeatedly spoken out about low-income families struggling to find reliable Wi-Fi so their children could participate in distance education and complete homework assignments early in the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we didn’t know before, we know now: High-speed internet is essential,” the Democratic president said at an event at the White House honoring the National Teacher of the Year last month.

The 20 Internet companies that have agreed to lower their rates for eligible consumers offer services in areas where 80% of the U.S. population, including 50% of the rural population, lives, according to the White House. Participating companies offering services on tribal lands offer a rate of $75 in those areas, the equivalent of the federal government subsidy in those areas.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were set to meet Monday with telecom executives, members of Congress and others to draw attention to efforts to improve access to high-speed internet for low-income households.

The providers are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom, MLGC, Spectrum (Charter Communications ), Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber, and Wow! Internet, cable and TV.

U.S. households are eligible for grants through the Affordable Connectivity Program if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or if a family member participates in one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Aid for Public Housing (FPHA) and Veterans’ Pension and Survivors’ Benefit.

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