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The Biden administration has said it will partner with internet service providers to lower the cost of high-speed internet plans for low-income Americans, the White House announced Monday.
The Affordable Connectivity Program will provide plans of at least 100 megabits per second of speed for up to $30. An estimated 48 million Americans will be eligible.
“High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” the White House said. “But too many families are going without high-speed internet because of the cost or having to cut back on other essentials to meet their monthly internet service payments.”
Twenty internet service providers, including national companies such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, as well as regional companies, such as Hawaiian Telecom and Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee, have committed to the program.
“It’s time for every American to experience the social, economic, health, career and educational benefits of universal Internet access,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey.
Americans will soon be able to visit www.getinternet.gov to determine their eligibility and register for the program. Those receiving benefits, such as the Pell Grant, Medicaid, or SNAP may qualify.
Agencies that oversee these programs will contact recipients of these benefits to see which households are eligible for CPA. Eligible households may also receive notifications from city or state agencies.
Organizations such as United Way and Goodwill will also help with outreach and registration.
“Being connected is key,” said Daniel Friesen, Chief Innovation Officer of IdeaTek, a Kansas-based internet service provider. “Our Internet Freedom mission means we believe everyone should have access to fast, reliable internet and the opportunities it offers, even when budgets are tight.”
In 2018, 85% of US households had high-speed internet access, with lower rates generally lower in rural communities, according to census data.