New Federal Program to Make Internet Access Available to All

The Biden Administration has secured private sector commitments designed to provide free or reduced-rate Internet to American families. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) allows tens of millions of U.S. households to lower their monthly bills or sign-up for new service. Among the 20 leading Internet providers participating in the plan, which reaches more than 80 percent of the population, are AT&T (Spectrum), Comcast (Xfinity) and Verizon. The list also includes smaller rural providers such as Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina.

The commitments will allow ACP-eligible households to receive high-speed Internet at no cost, and others to increase speed or reduce rates. The ACP plans will run for as little as $30 per month, according to a White House announcement.

Experts estimate that 48 million U.S. households — almost 40 percent — qualify for the ACP either because their income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level or because a member of the household meets another criteria, such as receiving Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

AT&T CEO John Stankey is cited by Yahoo Finance as indicating his company plan when combined with federal ACP benefits will provide free up to 100Mbps of Internet service.

“The Affordable Connectivity Program is a historic opportunity to close the digital divide by empowering more Americans to get online and connect to our increasingly digital world,” Comcast president and CEO David N. Watson shared on Yahoo Finance.

Because the participating ISPs agreed to make the high-speed service available to ACP households at no more than the $30 (or $75 per month on Tribal lands, the White House announcement says), those subscribers “will be able to receive Internet service effectively for free,” CNBC writes. The plan’s reach extends to “places where more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives and close to 50 percent of rural residents.”

Under the program, Verizon lowered its FiOS service cost from $40 per month to $30 per month to offer upload and download speeds of at least 200 megabits per second, the White House said, noting that Spectrum doubled the speed of its $30 per month plan from 50 to 100 megabits per second download speed for ACP participants.

“The administration also launched to direct consumers on how to sign up for ACP and find local providers who are part of the program,” CNBC says.

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.