Worth knowing about the new federal program for discounted internet services


The White House announced Monday that 20 internet providers will offer low-income households low-cost or free internet services to improve connectivity across the country.

According to the Biden administration, an estimated 48 million homes — about 40% of U.S. homes — are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit. The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion for the program.

The initiative allowed eligible internet subscribers to reduce their monthly internet service costs by up to $30, while eligible households on tribal lands could receive up to $75 per month.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 16 million Americans do not have access to a fixed broadband Internet connection. In rural areas, almost a quarter of the population has no access. In tribal areas, almost a third of the population has no access.

In a news conference Monday, President Joe Biden said high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a “necessity.”

“When we connect people to high-speed internet, we open up opportunities…the opportunity to live healthier, happier, more prosperous lives,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

Here’s what you should know about ACP, including how to find out if you qualify and how to apply for the benefit.

Who is Eligible?

Households are eligible if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty line or if a member of the household participates in other federal programs including: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Pell Grant and Medicaid.

A household is a group of people who live together and share income and expenses. They don’t have to be related to each other. Benefit is limited to one per household and is non-transferrable.

Find out if you qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program

Your household is eligible for the ACP benefit if the total income is at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines, according to the White House.

White House, GetInternet.gov

How do you apply?

You can claim your benefit online by visiting the White House website GetInternet.gov. There you can fill out an initial questionnaire, which will then direct you to an FCC online form.

Applications can also be submitted by post. Forms in English and Spanish are available on the White House website.

If you have an existing service provider participating in the program, you may need to apply through the company’s application process. A complete list of existing service providers is included.

To apply, you must provide either your social security number, a tribal identification number, or other government-issued identification, including a driver’s license, military ID card, passport, or tax identification number.

What is the internet speed?

Under the plan, ISPs will offer at least 100Mbps download speeds – which is believed to be fast enough for a typical household of four for video conferencing, streaming movies or TV and more.

Who are the participating ISPs?

Twenty companies have agreed to lower their rates for eligible consumers, according to the White House.

Need a discount for a computer, tablet or other device?

Households that are eligible for ACP can also receive a one-time rebate of up to $100 to purchase a device such as a laptop or tablet, with a co-payment of between $10 and $50. Contact a participating business to receive a discounted device.

In Washington State, these include: AirVoice Wireless, Assurance Wireless, Boost Mobile, Culture Wireless, Culture Wireless, Declaration Networks (NeuBeam), Easy Wireless, enTouch Wireless, Excess Telecom, FastMesh Internet, Gen Mobile, human-IT, Inland Cellular, Locatel Communications, Native Network, North American Local, PCs for People, Q Link Wireless, Red Pocket, Selectel Wireless, StandUp Wireless, SWA CONNECT, TerraCom, Tone Communication Services, Torch Wireless, TracFone Wireless and TruConnect.

For other states, see: fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers.


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