The Biden administration announced a plan Monday to expand access to affordable high-speed internet access for millions of Americans. The plan is part of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was created under thethat was signed into law in November.
Twenty internet service providers have agreed to either lower costs or increase speeds to provide eligible households with access to broadband internet with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, at a cost of no more than $30 per month, the administration said in a statement. The 20 ISPs, which include AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, cover roughly 80% of the U.S. population, according to the administration.
“High speed internet is not a luxury any longer,” the president said at an event to unveil the program in the White House Rose Garden. “It’s a necessity, and that’s why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”
In a Sunday briefing with reporters, administration officials said Latino Americans are 15% less likely to have high-speed internet than their white peers, while Black families are 9% less likely. In addition, roughly 35% of all people living on Tribal lands lack access to broadband services.
The administration estimates that 48 million households qualify for the ACP, which accounts for about 40% of all households in the U.S. Qualifying households either earn below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or have a member who receives other government benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.
Previously, households that qualified for the program could get internet access for $30 a month, but it was not necessarily true high speed internet.
Of the 48 million eligible households, some 11.5 million have signed up for the program since it launched, administration officials told reporters.
The officials stressed that the commitments from the 20 internet service providers were voluntary and were not tied to any federal funding or guarantees from the administration. The officials also said the administration was working to enlist more internet service providers to cover all U.S. households.