Millions of American homes could be connected to the internet for the first time thanks to a program designed to subsidize service for low-income homes as part of the infrastructure bill Congress passed last year. Twenty internet service providers have signed on to deliver discounted plans.
The $30 per month plans will offer 100 mbps speeds for nearly 50 million homes, with the money coming from the $14.2 billion set aside for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Users must sign up for a plan through 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, or Wow! Internet, Cable, and TV.
Combined, these providers service areas where more than 80% of Americans (and more than 50% of rural Americans) live. Access to reliable internet service has become a vital tool for modern life in the U.S., no more so than when schools went remote during the COVID pandemic.
“If we didn’t know it before, we know now: High-speed internet is essential,” President Joe Biden said last month.
To be eligible for the subsidies, households must have income at or below twice the federal poverty level, receive SNAP assistance, federal public housing assistance, or Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.
“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 White House said in a fact sheet.
About a quarter of eligible households have already signed up for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Others can check eligibility and sign up at GetInternet.gov.