White House touts “free” internet service plans

The White House said Monday 20 internet service providers have agreed to offer $ 30 high-speed internet plans to low-income families, effectively giving free service to households that qualify for a federal subsidy.

Why it matters: Cost is a key factor in the digital divide between those who have internet service and those who do not.

Catch up quick: The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a $ 30 monthly discount on internet service from participating providers for low-income households, such as those who receive federal assistance through SNAP or Medicaid.

Driving the news: President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will tout the agreement with providers – which includes Verizon, Comcast and Charter – at an event Monday focused on the ACP.

  • On a call with reporters, senior administration officials said the administration worked with 20 program providers to either increase the service speed or decrease the price to offer 100 Mbps service for $ 30 a month.
  • For example, Verizon cut the price of a $ 40 per month plan to $ 30 for ACP households, a senior administration official said.
  • The 20 ISP companies cover more than 80% of the US population, but they are a fraction of the more than 1,000 providers participating in the ACP.

What they’re saying: “ACP eligible families who choose to apply their ACP benefit to one of these plans will get high-speed internet at no monthly cost, “a senior administration official said.

  • “Every person in our nation, no matter how much they earn, should be able to afford high-speed internet and a high-speed internet plan,” Vice President Harris said at an event on Monday.
  • “This is a great example of what we can achieve when the federal government and the private sector work together to solve serious problems,” President Biden added at the event.

What’s next: The White House is launching a website, GetInternet.gov, and reaching out to eligible households through federal agencies to encourage enrollment.

  • As many as 48 million households qualify for the program, a senior administration official said. So far, just over 11.5 million have signed up.

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