Free internet available for low-income households in Florida

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — AT&T, Comcast, Google Fiber, Spectrum and dozens of other internet service providers are teaming up with the Federal Communications Commission to provide poor Americans with cheaper internet access.

In Florida, that means more than 60 companies will provide high-speed Internet access to households with incomes at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. This means, for example, individuals earning $13,590 or less or a family of four earning $27,750, logging in will be cheaper or free. As family size increases, the federal government adds $4,720 per person when calculating poverty in the continental United States

Internet access is paid for through an FCC benefit called the Affordable Connectivity Program. It’s designed to help “ensure households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.” Through the CPA, people experiencing poverty can get a $30 per month discount on their Internet service, or up to $75 per month for households that live on eligible tribal lands.

The program started on December 31, 2021.

Select households can also get a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop or tablet from one of the participating businesses, as long as they contribute between $10 and $50 towards the purchase. .

Depending on the internet service provider used, the CPA rebate could make internet access free for low-income households. For those who use AT&T, the $30 rebate allows their Access AT&T $30 program to give you free Internet access, according to a statement from the company Monday.

“Making home internet affordable for low-income households is an important step towards bridging the digital divide. AT&T’s new access plan offers improved speeds, no data caps, and works in concert with the ACP Federal Advantage,” said Cheryl Choy, SVP – Broadband Management & Strategy in a statement. “A free Internet service can make the difference in doing homework, being able to apply for a job or receiving medical care.”

Participants in assistance benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, who receive federal public housing assistance, Supplemental Security Income, a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, or Lifeline are all eligible. Those who participate in tribal programs such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or food distribution programs on Indian reservations are also eligible.

Families whose students receive free or reduced-price school meal or breakfast programs from the United States Department of Agriculture or those who have received a Pell Tuition Grant are also eligible for the advantage of broadband.

Addressing Internet access as the modern job market requires connectivity more than ever has made broadband a federal and state policy priority. In Florida, the internet is big enough that the State House approved half a billion dollars to get rural Floridians connected. Rep. Josie Tomkow’s (R-Polk City) bills passed unanimously in their first committee hearing.

The two pieces of legislation, House Bills 1543 and 1545, would create a trust fund to be used to finance the expansion of services across Florida and replace or build infrastructure to expand broadband across the state.

Of the bills, $400 million would be taken from federal infrastructure and pandemic relief funds used by Florida’s Broadband Opportunity Program. An additional $100 million would come from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, using federal dollars. The Senate versions of the bills are sponsored by Jim Boyd (R-Manatee).

To verify your eligibility for the Affordable Connectivity Program and apply for the benefit, you can apply online with CPA or submit a printed application. Then contact your preferred ISP to get the discount(s) applied to your monthly bill.

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