WASHINGTON – Twenty internet providers, including At&T, Comcast and Verizon, have agreed to provide high-speed service at a steep discount to low-income consumers, the White House announced Monday, significantly expanding broadband access for millions of Americans.

The plans, a feature of the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year, would cost qualifying households no more than $30 per month. The discounts plus existing federal internet subsidies mean the government will cover the full cost of connectivity if consumers sign on with one of the 20 participating companies. The White House estimates the program will cover 48 million households, or 40% of the country.

The 100 megabit per second service is fast enough for a family to work from home, complete school work, browse the internet and stream high-definition movies and TV shows, the White House said.

Households can qualify for the subsidies, called the Affordable Connectivity Program, if their income is at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines, a member of the household participates in certain federal anti-poverty initiatives – including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, federal housing assistance, Pell Grant tuition assistance, free and reduced-price school meals, and others – or if the household already qualifies for an internet provider’s low-income service program.

Consumers can check whether they qualify for discounted service at getinternet.gov.

President Joe Biden, both during the 2020 campaign and in negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, has made internet access a high priority, especially for rural America and low-income consumers. A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center found that though broadband – the most reliable form of internet connectivity – access has increased among rural residents in the past decade, rural communities still lag well behind others in terms of service.


Roughly 7 in 10 adults in rural areas reported having home broadband access in 2021, Pew found; the same proportion had desktop or laptop computer. Eight in 10 had a smartphone.

“If we didn’t know it before, we know now,” Biden said last month at White House ceremony honoring the national teacher of the year. “High-speed internet is essential.”

Biden’s infrastructure package reserved $65 billion to improve the nation’s broadband network. Most of that funding will go to states for projects directed by local policymakers, but a $14 billion pool was set aside for internet subsidies.

The discount program faces early hurdles because the households it is meant to serve are not online and therefore more difficult to reach. The White House said it would partner with other federal agencies, state and city governments and charitable groups to spread the word.

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