The Biden administration announced Monday that nearly two dozen companies have agreed to provide discounted internet service to low-income Americans, making millions eligible for free service under an existing federal subsidy.
Under the plan, the White House said 20 leading internet providers would offer plans of at least 100 megabits per second “for no more than $30/month.”
Last year’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending law includes $14.2 billion in funding for the plan, known as the Affordable Connectivity Program, and provides subsidies of $30 per month ($75 per month in tribal areas).
That means eligible Americans who sign up for internet service with one of the participating providers could have the provision fully paid for.
Households must qualify based on income and through participation in one of several other federal programs such as Medicaid, Pell Grants, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension, Supplemental Security Income and others. Current participants in those programs will be contacted about their eligibility.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were set to formally announce the plan Monday afternoon at the White House.
“Today’s announcement is just one part of the President’s strategy for lowering the cost of high-speed internet for all Americans,” the administration said Monday, adding that “grant programs providing tens of billions of dollars for broadband infrastructure construction will require providers to offer affordable internet options.
“New rules will soon require providers to display a ‘Broadband Nutrition Label’ that will make it easier to comparison shop for the best deal on internet,” the White House added.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is estimated to apply to 48 million households whose income falls at or below 200% of the federal poverty level or in which a family member is a part of another federal program. So far, only 11.5 million have signed up for the benefits.
Providers taking part in the program include 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.
With Post wires