Close to 40 percent of Americans will qualify for discounted high-speed internet service as announced Monday by President Joe Biden.
The plan, part of the Affordable Connectivity Program created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November, provides $30 monthly subsidies–$75 in tribal areas–for lower-income households. Families of four with about $55,000 in annual income, or those with someone eligible for Medicaid, will receive the internet credit.
About 20 internet providers have agreed to participate in the program, offering $30 monthly plans for 100Mbps broadband service to an estimated 48 million households. With the government subsidy, those plans are free when you sign up with a participating provider.
The need for reliable, high-speed internet in rural and low-income areas became acute during remote learning in the COVID-19 pandemic. Some providers already offered discount service to low-income families, although not high-speed internet. Comcast’s Internet Essentials provided monthly service, at 50Mbps, for $9.95 a month. Subscribers should now see both a speed increase and free service.
You’re eligible for the internet discount if you participate in any of these programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA).
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program.
- Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year).
- Certain Tribal assistance programs.
You’re also eligible if you qualify for your local broadband provider’s existing low-income internet program.
Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are among the 20 internet service providers, covering about 80 percent of the American population, in the new program.
Administration officials, in a weekend briefing, said Latino Americans are 15 percent less likely to have high-speed internet that white Americans. Black families are 9 percent less likely. And about 35 percent of all people living on tribal lands do not have broadband service at all.