On Monday, the Biden administration announced a new partnership with 20 broadband providers, including AT&T and Verizon, to enhance their subsidized high-speed Internet plans that are available to low-income Americans.
The measure strengthens the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a $30 per month subsidy to cover the cost Americans pay for Internet service ($75 per month on tribal lands). The program was ended last November as part of Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill and his $65 billion investment to increase connectivity across the country.
“In the 21st century, Internet access is essential for success. Every person in our nation, no matter how much they make, should be able to afford high-speed Internet and a high-speed Internet plan,” Vice President Kamala Harris said during Monday’s announcement.
in a data sheet Provided by the White House on Monday, officials said the 20 partner providers cover more than 80 percent of the US population “in urban, suburban and rural areas.” Provider promises range from speeding up their plans for low-income people to cutting their cost altogether. For many businesses, people who qualify for the program could receive free Internet service since their low-income plans cost no more than $30.
For example, Verizon cut its plan from $40 to $30, making the service free to qualifying households.
“During the pandemic, we saw how essential high-speed internet really is,” said President Biden. “High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
Still, broadband providers will greatly benefit from this partnership. Americans who were previously unable to pay for service will now be able to access the Internet through these government subsidies, bringing new customers to partner companies. Providers are not required to do more than increase packets by a few megabits or reduce costs.
Telecom’s main policeman, the FCC, is also stopped. Senate Republicans have stalled the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be the agency’s third Democratic commissioner. for more than six months. If passed, Sohn would secure a majority for Democrats on the committee and allow them to take more drastic action to address competition and net neutrality issues.
“Some of the internet service providers appearing at this White House event are sabotaging President Biden’s FCC even as they pose for today’s photo op,” said Matt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel for the Free Press. , in a statement Monday. “It will be difficult to see the president and vice president shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of the same companies who are orchestrating a smear campaign against Gigi Sohn.”