On Monday, The White House announced plans to boost access to high-speed internet for low-income families, giving millions of Americans free internet access as the Biden Administration works to make access available to all Americans.
The White House said twenty internet service providers, including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, agreed to cut prices or increase speeds to provide eligible households with affordable high-speed internet access. The announcement said that the commitments come from providers who offer high-speed internet services to “over 80% of the U.S. population,” which includes “nearly 50% of the rural population.”
The statement from the White House said, “High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. But too many families go without high-speed internet because of the cost or have to cut back on other essentials to make their monthly internet service payments.”
The service providers’ commitments are not bound by any law, nor do they utilize any public funding. Rather, the providers’ commitment helps reduce the amount of federal funding needed to provide the benefits.
The White House said, “As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the President and Vice President worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which allows tens of millions of American households to reduce their internet service costs by up to $30/month (or $75/month on Tribal lands).”
The Administration said that it was taking measures to ensure as many ACP-eligible households as possible take advantage of this new program.
GetInternet.gov is being launched as a resource. It is an “easy-to-use website with details on how Americans can sign up for ACP.” The site allows Americans to find participating internet providers in their area.
Agencies that manage several other federal programs, like Pell Grants, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income, will also contact the individuals in their database to inform them of the new program.
The White House said it would work directly with state and local governments to notify residents of the affordable service options.
Additionally, the White House said that groups like United Way, Goodwill, Catholic Charities USA, and UnidosUS, will train their national networks to conduct direct enrollment and outreach.
As part of the announcement, the Biden Administration also noted that the initiative will “require providers to display a ‘Broadband Nutrition Label‘ that will make it easier to comparison shop for the best deal on internet.”
The efforts also include new FCC regulations that “ban sweetheart deals between internet providers and landlords that restrict the internet options available to millions of Americans who live in apartment buildings.”