The White House said today it has lined up 20 service providers that will offer high-speed broadband service within the price points set forth in the government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), and also went live with a Federal website that people can use to find the services.
The Federal Communications Commission launched the ACP – the successor to its Emergency Broadband Benefit program – in January of this year. The $14.2 billion ACP will build on the Emergency Broadband Benefit program’s efforts, which helped almost nine million people to afford internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The transition to the ACP follows congressional directives in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which appropriated $65 billion for numerous efforts to improve affordable access to high-speed broadband services in the United States, particularly in underserved areas and for people who need help affording it.
As part of ACP, eligible households can receive up to a $30 per month discount toward internet service, and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Additionally, eligible households can receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
The White House today unveiled a roster of 20 broadband service providers who have committed 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.”
The companies signing onto the commitment include very large providers – AT&T, Comcast, Verizon – all the way down to state-level providers including Comporium in North Carolina and the Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee. Collectively, the companies’ service areas cover about 80 percent of the U.S. population.
The result, the White House said, is that the commitments will allow “tens of millions of ACP-eligible households to receive high-speed internet at no cost.”
To spread the news, the White House said it is launching the GetInternet.gov website to explain which ACP-eligible households can sign up and find participating service providers.
In addition, Federal agencies that provide a variety of benefits to citizens will coordinate reach-out efforts for ACP. Households qualify for ACP based on income, or through participation in Federal programs including Pell Grants, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income, among many others.
On the state and local level, governments including those of Michigan, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Mesa, Arizona, and New York City will text millions of eligible households about ACP availability, the White House said.
Talking about the potential size of the ACP population, the White House today cited experts who believe that 48 million U.S. households – or about 40 percent of all U.S. households – qualify for ACP.
“When we connect people with high-speed internet, we connect them with opportunity: the opportunity to get an education, to train for a new career, to build a business, to keep in touch with loved ones who are far away,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at a White House ceremony today publicizing the new broadband service provider commitments.
“Earlier this year, our administration called on internet service providers to take action to help folks get internet connected, in part by offering more affordable high-speed internet plans to their customers,” she said. “The providers joining us today have answered that call.”