The White House said today that the administration has persuaded 20 providers to lower their broadband costs and/or increase broadband speeds with the goal of making internet service more affordable for “millions of American families” that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
That program, which came into effect at the beginning of the year, pays $30 a month toward the cost of internet service for lower-income households. Households qualify for the program through their participation in any of a range of government programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid.
According to a White House fact sheet, the 20 broadband providers account for 80% of internet users in the U.S. The providers have agreed to offer a broadband service priced at no more than $30 a month that supports speeds of at least 100 Mbps where the provider’s network is capable of 100 Mbps service. The service also cannot have additional fees or data caps.
The net impact is that those qualifying for the ACP will be able to get internet service for free.
The news isn’t a surprise, considering that numerous broadband providers – including Breezeline, AT&T, Charter, T-Mobile, Comcast, Mediacom and Verizon — already have announced broadband plans that will be essentially free for ACP households. It’s worth noting that, depending on the provider, the $30-a-month plan may only be available to households that qualify for the ACP.
According to the White House fact sheet, households qualifying for the ACP may account for as much as 40% of the U.S. population. A complete list of the 20 providers that have agreed to offer the $30-a-month service, at least to ACP participants, can be found in the fact sheet.
Increasing ACP Outreach
Also today, the administration said it has obtained agreements with a range of federal administrators to increase ACP awareness. Officials responsible for programs such as the Pell grant program, the Supplemental Security Income program and Medicaid have agreed to reach out to program participants to advise them about their eligibility for the ACP program.
In addition, workers for United Way, Goodwill, Catholic Charities, and UnidosUS will be trained to conduct direct enrollment and outreach for the program.
Lastly, the government is launching the GetInternet.gov website, which will offer details on how Americans can sign up for ACP and find participating internet providers in their area.