The Biden administration is launching a new outreach effort on Monday to urge eligible households to opt in to the affordable internet program launched by the bipartisan infrastructure law.
As of Monday, 11.5 million households had joined the Affordable Connectivity Program, but that number only marked a roughly 10% increase in sign-ups since early February. Senior administration officials estimate 48 million households are eligible for the program, covering nearly 40% of households across the country.
"Inflation and high prices remain a challenge for families across the country," one senior administration official said of Monday's announcement. "The president is laser-focused on doing everything we can to reduce inflation and lower costs for families as part of our administration's efforts to bring down costs."
"This has been a key priority for the president, vice president, and the entire administration," a second official added. "High-speed internet at home is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity for children to learn, workers to do their job, seniors and others to access healthcare today through telemedicine, and for all of us to stay connected in this digital world. Affordable high-speed internet can make or break how millions of families can work, learn, and participate in the 21st-century economy."
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will also deliver remarks on the new outreach efforts Monday afternoon at the White House.
More than 1,300 internet service providers across the country have partnered with the program to provide participants with a $30-per-month discount for 100 Mbps internet plans. Furthermore, more than 20 of the nation's largest ISPs are offering plans at or below $30 per month, including AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications, Spectrum, and Verizon. To qualify, homes must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level or have one member of the household enrolled in one of the following programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
- Supplemental Security Insurance.
- Federal Public Housing Assistance.
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program.
- Federal Pell Grant (1 year of eligibility).
- Certain tribal assistance programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
Monday's actions include the launching of GetInternet.gov, an "easy-to-use website" where enrollees can sign up for the program and choose from a number of qualifying plans.
Furthermore, federal agencies will begin contacting eligible households directly to notify them about the program, and the administration will be collaborating with public interest groups to "train their national networks to conduct direct enrollment and outreach."
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"I want to be clear that we didn't — we have not offered them anything in order to make these commitments," a senior administration official claimed when asked what the government offered to ISPs to have them offer the discounted plans. "It was important to try to get these companies to reduce their prices, at least for ACP eligible households — 48 million eligible households in the country — and they did so voluntarily."