One big piece of the Biden administration's agenda was expanding high-speed broadband internet into rural and lower-income households. Today, the White House revealed that it's reached an agreement with 20 of the largest internet providers in the US to provide low-cost and high-speed internet to those underserved areas.
Since taking office, President Biden has highlighted the difficulties of poorer Americans or those living in extremely rural areas, who need reliable broadband access for remote learning and work.
As part of the existing Affordable Connectivity Program, internet providers will now offer $30 monthly plans with speeds of at least 100Mbs. Those eligible for a $30 subsidy will then have access to free internet.
In February, Vice-President Harris said that over 10 million households have already signed up for ACP subsidies to help pay for broadband. The main issue was that the internet was still too expensive in some places, even with the $30 discount. Broadband internet providers now offering these new $30 plans should make the ACP more impactful for a lot more families, though major ISPs are always looking for ways to worm out of providing faster internet in rural areas.
The Affordable Connectivity Program will give over 48 million households (roughly 40% of the country) in the US access to high-speed internet at little to no cost, thanks to the subsidy mentioned above they can apply for. There are three different ways you can meet the requirement:
- Your income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- You or someone in your household already participates in Government programs like Snap, WIC, Tribal TANF, etc.
- You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income internet program.
As part of Congress's $1 trillion infrastructure package, the ACP provides $30 a month subsidies ($75 in tribal communities) that families can use for internet costs. This means you can apply for a subsidy to discount your existing internet plan.
Here's a list of companies that will now be offering high-speed internet plans for $30 a month or less:
- Allo Communications
- AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom)
- Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink)
- Cox Communications
- Jackson Energy Authority
- Spectrum (Charter Communications)
- Verizon (Fios only)
- Vermont Telephone Co.
- Vexus Fiber
- Wow! Internet, Cable, and TV
The program also gives those eligible a $100 stipend towards purchasing an internet-connected device like a laptop, desktop, or tablet.
The White House set up a website to see if your household qualifies for the discount and/or government subsidy. Even if your internet provider doesn't offer a $30/month plan, you can still apply for the subsidy and get $30 taken off your existing plan; all you need to prove is that you meet the criteria. Over 1,300 companies nationwide have said they will accept the ACP benefit.