The Biden administration this week announced an agreement to expand access to high-speed broadband internet access, a priority for many rural and farm groups.
As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the administration created the Affordable Connectivity Program, which allows low-income households to reduce their internet service costs by up to $30 a month.
National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti says the announcement this week builds on that program.
“So, what we did over the last few months is go out and talk to the leading internet providers in the country, both the big guys like AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Comcast and so on, but also smaller providers, and see if they would agree to cut their prices so that they would charge no more than $30 a month for really high quality high speed plan, so that when you take the $30 a month credit that you get through this government program and apply it to those plans, your monthly costs in zero.”
The announcement this week means the 20 companies the White House engaged with agreed to those terms. He says the program will benefit many families.
“It’s really important for families who are looking to work remotely, important for small business owners who want to run their business out of their home. It’s really important for students who are trying to keep up at school, you need high speed internet for that and you shouldn’t have to break the bank to get that service. So, what we’re really excited about this, this is going to mean a lot more people who are maybe living with low speed connections because they can’t pony up more to get high speed a coverage, now we’re going to be able to get that.”
Households qualify for the program based on their income or through their participation in one of several other federal programs, like Pell Grants, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income.
And, for areas of the nation lacking high-speed broadband, such as many in rural America, the program addresses that as well.
“For certain parts of the country, you may need a little bit of government help to make the business case for a company to expand in that area. So, what we’re committed to doing is, where appropriate, with a competitive process, we could put a little bit of federal money on the table to encourage a company or co-op to expand service, connect more households and to charge reasonable prices when they do that. That’s our plan. And we’ve looked at all the data and you feel confident that with the amount of money that Congress on a bipartisan basis allocated to this, we’re going to be able to connect every single household in the United States to high-speed Internet by the end of this decade.”
More information is available at getinternet.gov.