By Karen Stokes
The Biden administration on Monday, May 9, announced a plan to expand affordable high-speed internet access for millions of Americans.
“High speed internet is not a luxury any longer,” the president said at an event to unveil the program in the White House Rose Garden. “It’s a necessity, and that’s why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”
The plan, part of the $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), was created under the bipartisan $100 trillion infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November.
“Our goal as part of the Biden Administration is to make sure that every single family can get affordable internet,” said Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.
Approximately 48 million American households can reduce their internet service costs by up to $30/month (or $75/month on Tribal lands).
“We are just coming out of this pandemic where I think it became really clear how important internet access is. It’s important for kids and students trying to go to school, for parents who are trying to stay connected at work, and folks who need healthcare information over the internet, especially seniors who can’t get to the doctors office,” Ramamurti said.
The Biden-Harris Administration has secured commitments from 20 leading internet providers that will cover more than 80% of the U.S. population across urban, suburban, and rural areas.
“And that’s why the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband Internet in every region of the country — urban, suburban, and rural — everywhere — everywhere — — so every household in America can get connected,” the president said.
There are a couple of ways to qualify. One way is based on your household income, if your income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty line.
Another way to qualify is if you or someone in your household is a participant in government programs like Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, FPHA, a veterans pension and survivors benefit, free and reduced-price school lunch or school breakfast, a federal pell grant, or tribal assistance.
Visit getinternet.gov to see if you qualify and to sign up online. You can also call 877-384-2575 for more information.
Twenty internet service providers have agreed to either lower costs or increase speeds to provide eligible households with access to broadband internet with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, at a cost of no more than $30 per month, the administration said in a statement. The 20 ISPs, which include AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, cover roughly 80% of the U.S. population, according to the administration.
The participating providers are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telcom), 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.
“This is a case where big business stepped up. We’re trying to get others to do the same thing,” Biden told the crowd to sustained applause. “It’s going to change peoples’ lives.”