As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law introduced by the Biden-Harris Administration, the Federal government has secured commitments from 20 Internet providers to cut prices and increase speeds for broadband connectivity around the country.
High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. But too many families go without high-speed internet because of the cost or have to cut back on other essentials to make their monthly internet service payments. Lowering prices—including the cost of high-speed internet service—was one of President Biden’s top priorities when running for office and yesterday the Biden Administration announced that they have secured private sector commitments that will lower high-speed internet costs for millions of American families.
As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the President and Vice President worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which allows tens of millions of American households to reduce their internet service costs by up to $30/month (or $75/month on Tribal lands). To ensure the most efficient use of those public dollars and to deliver maximum cost savings to families, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured commitments from 20 leading internet providers—covering more than 80% of the U.S. population across urban, suburban, and rural areas—to either increase speeds or cut prices, making sure they all offer ACP-eligible households high-speed, high-quality internet plans for no more than $30/month.
From large providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon serving dozens of states, to smaller providers serving rural areas like Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina, the commitments will allow tens of millions of ACP-eligible households to receive high-speed internet at no cost.
The Biden-Harris Administration is also launching a comprehensive effort to make sure as many ACP-eligible households as possible take advantage of this new program by:
Launching GetInternet.gov: GetInternet.gov is a simple, easy-to-use website with details on how Americans can sign up for ACP and find participating internet providers in their area.
Reaching out to eligible households through federal agencies: Households qualify for ACP based on their income or through their participation in one of several other federal programs, like Pell Grants, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income. Agencies that manage these programs will be coordinating an effort to reach out to households that qualify for ACP through programs they help administer. For example, the Social Security Administration will email all 1.6 million Supplemental Security Income recipients who have a “My Social Security” account, letting them know that they are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Partnering with states and cities: The Administration is partnering with states and cities to spread the word as well. For example, Michigan, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Mesa, Arizona, and New York City will text millions of eligible households.
Collaborating with public interest organizations: Public interest organizations, including the United Way, Goodwill, Catholic Charities USA, and UnidosUS, will train their national networks to conduct direct enrollment and outreach. And Propel, a mission-driven financial technology company, will provide information via the Providers app to connect more than 5 million low-income families with the program.
Today’s announcement is just one part of the President’s strategy for lowering the cost of high-speed internet for all Americans. New grant programs providing tens of billions of dollars for broadband infrastructure construction will require providers to offer affordable internet options. New rules will soon require providers to display a “Broadband Nutrition Label” that will make it easier to comparison shop for the best deal on internet. The FCC has adopted rules to ban sweetheart deals between internet providers and landlords that restrict the internet options available to millions of Americans who live in apartment buildings. And the President’s competition agenda is focused on providing Americans with more good options for internet service where they live—driving down prices and increasing the quality of service.
THE AFFORDABLE CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is the largest high-speed internet affordability program in the nation’s history. Experts estimate that 48 million households—or nearly 40% of households in the country—qualify for the ACP either because their income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, or because a member of the household meets one of the other criteria below:
Participates in one of the following 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, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)
Certain Tribal assistance programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income internet program.
Under the terms of the ACP, an eligible household that signs up for the program will receive a discount of up to $30/month on any internet service plan a participating provider offers. Households on Tribal Lands are eligible for a discount of up to $75/month. As of now, more than 1,300 internet service providers participate in the program, and more than 11.5 million households have signed up to receive the ACP benefit.
NEW PRIVATE SECTOR COMMITMENTS
To make the most of this program, the Biden-Harris Administration asked participating internet service providers to either reduce prices and or raise speeds to offer ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet plan for no more than $30/month. For these purposes, the Administration views a sufficiently high-speed plan as one that offers download speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second everywhere that the provider’s infrastructure is capable of it. That’s fast enough for a typical family of four to work from home, do schoolwork, browse the web, and stream high-definition shows and movies. In addition, the Administration asked providers to offer such plans with no fees and no data caps.
For example, as part of this initiative, Verizon lowered the price for its Fios service from $39.99/month to $30/month for a plan that delivers download and upload speeds of at least 200 Megabits per second, and Spectrum doubled the speed of the $30/month plan it makes available to ACP participants from 50 to 100 Megabits per second (download).