Monday, May 09, 2022

Biden announces deal to make broadband more affordable, and often free, for millions of low-income households

UPDATE, May 11: The program should be a wake-up call to "newspapers, especially those with weak websites and limited online offerings," writes Tom Silvestri of The Relevance Project, a program of the Newspaper Association Managers. He says papers "should step up developing profitable digital delivery of news and marketing messages. Why run the risk of becoming irrelevant once internet access and speed are no longer obstacles for readers? Stop waiting."

President Biden has announced a program to make broadband internet service more affordable or even free for millions of low-income households, including those in rural and tribal areas.

As part of the Affordable Connectivity Program, 20 internet service providers will lower costs to no more than $30 a month or increase speeds to at least 100 megabits per second, the administration said in a statement Monday morning. The 20 ISPs, which include AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, cover roughly 80 percent of the U.S. population, according to the administration, CBS News reports.

Last year's infrastructure law allows some low-income families to get a $30 credit ($75 on tribal lands) to help pay for broadband, so households that apply that credit to one of the AFC plans will essentially get free broadband, Michael Collins reports for USA Today.

"About 48 million households, or nearly 40% of those in the country, are eligible for the broadband benefit. To make sure that eligible families take advantage of the offer, the administration [has launched] a website ( that will provide details about how they can sign up and find participating internet providers in their area," Collins reports. "Households with annual incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, about $27,000 for an individual or $55,000 for a family of four, are eligible for the benefit program. Families also can qualify if they are enrolled in other federal programs, such as Pell Grants, Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income."

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