On Monday, May 9th, 2022, President Biden announced his office had reached an agreement with 20 internet service providers to offer low-cost, high-speed internet plans for those who qualify, which will end up resulting in free internet for millions of Americans.

The 20 participating providers service over 80% of the U.S. population in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The joint private sector/government infrastructure law is now part of the existing Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and expects to reach 48 million households that qualify for the program.

The new program targets low-income households and provides a discount of up to $30/month on internet service. In addition, if participants qualify and fall within the footprint of any of the 20 internet service providers, the internet service may end up completely free through a refund.

Eligibility Requirements

An eligible household will receive a discount of up to $30/month on internet plans from participating providers. Tribal Land participants may qualify for up to $75/month discounts.

Participants qualify for the program based on their income being at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, or a member of the household takes part in one of the following programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
  • Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)
  • Lifeline
  • 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 (Tribal TANF), and Food

Participating Providers

The Biden administration asked the internet service providers participating in the federal program to lower prices and raise speeds, including no fees and no data caps. This benefit would allow eligible households to utilize high-speed internet for $30/month. Per the program definition, high-speed internet with download speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second anywhere the provider’s infrastructure allows for those speeds.

These are the companies participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

How to take advantage of the program?

The government would like to ensure that all eligible households participate in the new program, so they are launching initiatives to get the word out and make signing up as easy as possible.

  • gov is an Affordable Connectivity Program(ACP) sign-up website with participating internet providers listed.
  • Government agencies that manage federal programs will be reaching out to qualifying households within their programs.
  • Some states and cities partnering with the government will text eligible households. Those partnering so far are Michigan, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Mesa, Arizona, and New York City.
  • Charitable organizations like Goodwill, Catholic Charities USA, United Way, and UnidosUS will organize direct enrollment and outreach with eligible participants.

Expanding broadband for all Americans

Many smaller and rural internet service providers have not yet joined the list of 20 providers because of the pricing or speed requirements asked for by the Biden Administration. And while there are more than 1,300 internet service providers currently participating in the program, eligible households may still enroll in the ACP and yet still endure slower internet speeds or plans not covered by the $30 refund.

President Biden would like to reduce the cost of high-speed internet for everyone; this includes billions of dollars in federal grants for broadband infrastructure.

  • Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law includes $65 billion to help build our country’s broadband infrastructure for more reliability and faster speeds at an affordable price.

    Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • Capital Projects Fund. A federal grant assists local and state governments in improving broadband infrastructure for at-home work, education, and health monitoring during and after the pandemic.
  • Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. A federal program that provides $350 billion to state and local governments for COVID-19 recovery efforts includes investing in broadband infrastructure to expand affordable access to broadband internet.

Soon, ISPs will have to show consumers a Broadband Nutrition Label. This new label will help consumers compare shop prices, introductory rates, data allowances, and broadband speeds. Some websites, like LocalCableDeals, already provide comparison shopping for the consumer.

President Biden’s core broadband agenda is creating competition by providing more internet options for everyone, driving prices down, and increasing the quality of internet service.