“Over the past few months, my administration has been working closely with ISPs. This is the case where big companies have stepped up — urging them to lower their prices and increase their speeds,” Biden said at a White House Rose Garden. event about the attempt. “So now eligible families can choose a plan from a participating provider and get high-speed internet for free in most cases.”
Biden thanked the participating providers, which included national names like AT&T, Comcast, Frontier, Spectrum and Verizon, as well as more local providers like Jackson Energy Authority and Ideatek. The president said participating providers cover about 80% of the US population.
He also launched the initiative as part of his wider efforts to fight inflation.
“The bottom line is that my top priority is fighting inflation and lowering prices for families for things they need,” the president told lawmakers and executives in the yard. “Today’s announcement gives millions of families… a little more breathing room to help them pay their bills. We’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans, with corporations and nonprofits, to make this happen, and we’ll continue to work.” to fight inflation and lower costs for all American families, and a lot of other things too.”
To qualify for the benefits of the program, a member of a particular household must meet certain low-income thresholds or participate in one of the national assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the Free and Reduced -Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, Pell Grants or others.
To date, an estimated 11.5 million households have applied to participate in the ACS.
The Biden administration has reviewed several proposals to close the US digital divide that has persisted for years. And early in his presidential term, Biden assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the White House’s broadband access efforts. However, the issue has sparked fierce political battles over how much money to spend, where to spend it, and what types of Internet access Americans need to stay competitive in the 21st century.
Speaking at the Rose Garden event, Biden called internet access “a necessity” and Harris argued that “21st century access to the internet is essential to success.”
“Everyone in our country, no matter how much they earn, should be able to afford high-speed internet and a high-speed internet subscription,” she said.
Participating companies volunteered to work with the government, the White House says.
Comcast Cable CEO and President David Watson said in a statement that the program “represents a historic opportunity to close the digital divide by empowering more Americans to get online and connect with our increasingly digital world.”
“We have been working on digital equality issues for over a decade and believe this new program provides even more support to achieve those goals. We are proud to work with our government and community partners to bridge the digital divide,” Watson wrote.
The 20 providers participating in Monday’s commitment will provide coverage for 80% of the country’s population and 50% of the country’s rural population, the White House said.