WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – The Biden administration announced on Monday that 20 Internet companies have agreed to provide discounted services to low-income Americans, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free services through an existing federal subsidy.
A trillion-dollar infrastructure package adopted by Congress last year included $ 14.2 billion in funding for the Access Connection Program, which provides a $ 30 monthly subsidy ($ 75 in tribal areas) for online services to millions of lower-income households.
With a new commitment from ISPs, about 48 million households will be eligible for monthly plans of $ 30 for a service of 100 megabits per second, or higher speeds, making the Internet service fully paid for with a government subsidy if they apply for one of the service providers. participate in the program.
During his tenure in the White House and the imposition of infrastructure laws, Biden has expanded high-speed Internet access in rural and low-income areas as a priority. He has repeatedly spoken of low-income families struggling to find reliable wi-fi so that their children can participate in distance learning and do homework early in the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we didn’t know that before, now we know: high-speed internet is necessary,” the Democratic president said during a White House event last month in honor of National Teacher of the Year.
20 online companies that have agreed to lower their prices for qualified consumers provide services in areas where 80% of the U.S. population lives, including 50% of the rural population, according to the White House. Participating companies offering services in tribal countries provide rates of $ 75 in these areas, which is equivalent to a federal government subsidy in these areas.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were due to meet with telecommunications leaders, members of Congress and others on Monday to highlight efforts to improve high-speed internet access for low-income households.
Providers 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 Communica) . ), Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber and Wow! Internet, cable and TV.
U.S. households are eligible for subsidies through the Affordable Connectivity Program if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or if a member of their family participates in one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance FPHA) and Veterans ‘Pension and Survivors’ Compensation.