The Biden Administration announced a new program to provide low cost, or free, internet service for low-income households in an effort to increase connectivity across the country. On Monday, the White House released details about the the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which would be available to tens of millions of people
20 internet providers have already signed on to the program, including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. Through the program, internet subscribers would be able to cut their monthly costs by up to $30 on any internet service plan, while households on tribal land will be eligible to receive up to $75 a month.
As part of this initiative, Verizon lowered the price for its Fios service from $39.99 to $30 a month for speeds of at least 200 Megabits per second, while Spectrum doubled the speed of its $30 a month plan from 50 to 100 Megabits per second, according to the White House.
In order to qualify for the program, households must have an income of, or below, the federal poverty line, or if a member of the household takes part in one of several beneficiary programs such as Medicaid, Lifeline, or Federal Public Housing Assistance.
The White House estimates that around 48 million households will be eligible to enroll, which is about 40% of all households in the U.S. So far, 11.5 million households have already signed up to participate in the ACP.
Around 16 million Americans still don’t have access to a fixed broadband internet connection, with nearly one third of the population in tribal areas lacking access, according to the Federal Communications Commission. But staying connected has meant more in the past two years than ever before with the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, forcing schools and offices to shut down and switch to remote work.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed the need to increase the accessibility of broadband internet in low income areas, especially so that students are able to learn remotely. “If we didn’t know it before, we know now: High-speed internet is essential,” Biden said during a ceremony to honor teachers that was held in April.