WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy.
“High speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity,” Biden said at a sun-drenched rose garden event with representatives from participating companies, as well as members of Congress.
The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households.
With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service — making internet service fully paid for with government assistance if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program.
Biden noted that families of four earning about $55,000 annually — or those including someone eligible for Medicaid — will get a $30 monthly credit, meaning about 40 percent of Americans will qualify.
“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.”
Advocates were cautiously optimistic.
“It might be a game-changer,” said Marty Newell, coordinator for Rural Broadband Policy at the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky, where he said slow internet has plagued residents and businesses alike.
Newell said he wanted to see more about what the program will mean going forward, but that his main question is — given that increased broadband access has generally been a bipartisan issue in Congress — “What took them so long”
Biden, during his White House run and the push for the infrastructure bill, made expanding high-speed internet access in rural and low-income areas a priority. He has repeatedly spoken out about low-income families that struggled finding reliable Wi-Fi, so their children could take part in remote schooling and complete homework assignments early in the coronavirus pandemic, including, he said Monday, families driving to McDonald’s parking lots to access wireless internet inside the restaurant.
The 20 internet companies that have agreed to lower their rates for eligible consumers provide service in areas where 80% of the U.S. population, including 50% of the rural population, live, the president said. Participating companies that offer service on tribal lands are providing $75 rates in those areas, the equivalent of the federal government subsidy in those areas.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also met Monday with telecom executives, members of Congress and others to spotlight the effort to improve access to high-speed internet for low-income households. The president said a top priority going forward will be increasing competition among internet providers in many parts of the country, noting that millions of Americans live in areas with just one provider and currently pay higher prices because of it.
The participating providers are 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.
American 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 Benefit.
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Like that will compensate for sky-high everything else.
YET MORE ‘freebies’ to the supposed “LOW income”. OFTEN MAKING THEM “Earn” more than those who ACTUALLY Work for a bloody living..
If the nitwits who wrote our anti-discrimination laws would have added “personal income and success ” to race, color, religion, national origin, sex and pregnancy, as things Americans or government law could not discriminate against, the government would not be able to so eagerly discriminate against people of success who have the ability to SELF-govern, tax and diminish them to failed positions of equity, with free internet to empower and grow the ranks of THE PEOPLE who refuse to pull their weight in society, and allow the government corruptors of our morality the ability to create more vehicles for their debilitating mind manipulations of an entire nation into an Idiocracy, born of social dependency. He who controls the information, controls the population, which no longer allows a nation of meritocracy to control the evils of the world. Biden’s version of government help just allows their social captives to remain in their cowardly self-chosen safe zones of childish dependency, delaying or destroying their designed spirt of adventure for risk that motivates them to step out of their safe zones and create a better life. and a collectively stronger American nation.
I’d love to get discounted (or free) Internet Service, but I worked for a living and was never on the dole (food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing, etc.), so I don’t qualify. I have to pay full price.
More and more it’s looking like we WORKERS, who actually DO HONEST JOBS for honest pay, are ‘Muggles”.
WOW! more free stuff thanks Uncle Joe and BHO. Whom is it you want me to vote for in the elections? Remember get more free stuff ready for 2024.