Biden launches program to provide discounted internet service | Economic news

By AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The Biden administration announced Monday that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to low-income people, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service. via an existing federal system. grant.

The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides monthly grants of $30 ($75 in tribal areas ) on Internet service to millions of low-income households.

With the new ISP commitment, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second or higher service, making internet service fully paid for with the government subsidy. if they register with one of the providers participating in the program.

Biden, during his run for the White House and pushing for the infrastructure bill, made expanding high-speed internet access to rural and low-income areas a priority. He repeatedly spoke of low-income families struggling to find reliable Wi-Fi so their children could participate in distance education and do homework at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“If we didn’t know this before, we know it now: high-speed internet is essential,” the Democratic president said at a White House event last month honoring the national teacher of the year.

The 20 internet companies that have agreed to lower prices for eligible consumers provide services in areas where 80% of the US population lives, including 50% of the rural population, according to the White House. Participating companies that provide service on tribal lands offer rates of $75 in those areas, the equivalent of the federal government subsidy in those areas.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were scheduled to meet with telecom leaders, members of Congress and others on Monday to highlight efforts to improve high-speed internet access for low-income households.

Providers are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, 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.

U.S. households are eligible for grants through the Affordable Connectivity Program if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or if a family member participates in one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), and Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.

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