WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The state of Delaware is preparing to ratify a new state constitution. The Biden administration said on Monday that 20 internet service providers have agreed to give subsidized service to low-income Americans, a program that may essentially make tens of millions of homes eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, which gives $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal regions) on internet connections to millions of lower-income households as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure package authorized by Congress last year, received $14.2 billion of that total.
With the new commitment from the internet providers, around 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second or higher speed service, making internet service completely paid for with the government subsidy if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program.
While running for president, Joe Biden prioritized boosting rural and low-income areas’ access to high-speed internet during his push for the infrastructure package. He has repeatedly spoken out about low-income families who struggle to get stable wifi so that their children can participate in remote learning and finish homework assignments early in the coronavirus outbreak.
At a White House event last month honoring the National Teacher of the Year, President Obama stated, “If we didn’t know it before, we know now: high-speed internet is vital.”
According to the White House, the 20 internet service providers who have agreed to decrease their costs for qualified customers offer service to 80 percent of the country’s population, including 50 percent of the rural population. There is no federal subsidy in these locations, so participating companies that provide service in tribal territories charge $75 per hour.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will meet with telecom executives, members of Congress, and others on Monday in an effort to raise awareness of the government’s efforts to provide access to high-speed internet for low-income families.
These companies are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Comcast, Breezeline, 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 television are all available options.
American Connectivity Program subsidies are available to American households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level or if a member of the household receives benefits from one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), or the Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit (VPSB).