The Affordable Connectivity Program provides millions of households with $30 monthly grants ($75 in tribal areas) for Internet services.
The Biden administration announced Monday that 20 Internet companies have agreed to offer discounted services to low-income people, a program that could effectively qualify tens of millions of households for free service through an already existing federal grant.
The $1 trillion infrastructure package approved by Congress 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 to millions of lower-income households. income.
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 who struggled to find reliable Wi-Fi so their children could participate in remote schooling and complete homework assignments early in the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we didn’t know before, we know now: fast 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 that are home to 80 percent of the U.S. population, including 50 percent of the rural population, according to the White House. Participating companies offering services on tribal lands offer rates of $75, 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 percent 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.