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White House urges ISPs to cut fees for the poor

Wilmington, Del. – The Biden administration announced Monday that 20 Internet companies have agreed to offer discounted services to low-income Americans, a program that could effectively put tens of millions of households in jeopardy through a pre-existing federal subsidy for free services.

The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 ($75 in tribal) monthly subsidies for Internet services for millions of low-income households.

With the new pledge from ISPs, around 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for service at 100 megabits per second or faster speeds – paying for internet service entirely with the government subsidy if they sign up with one of the Vendors register vendors participating in the program.

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Biden made expanding high-speed Internet access in rural and low-income areas a priority during his White House run and push for the infrastructure bill. He has repeatedly spoken out about low-income families struggling to find reliable WiFi so their children could attend distance learning and do homework early in the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we didn’t know it before, we know it now: high-speed Internet is essential,” the Democratic president said last month during a White House event honoring the national Teacher of the Year.

The 20 Internet companies that have agreed to lower their rates for eligible consumers provide services in areas where 80% of urban residents live and 50% of rural residents, according to the White House. Participating companies that provide services in tribal areas pay $75 in those areas, which equals the federal government grant in those areas.

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The providers are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom, MLGC, Spectrum (Charter Communications ), Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber and Wow! Internet, cable and television.

American households are eligible for subsidies through the Affordable Connectivity Program if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty line or if a family member participates in one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) and Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/09/white-house-says-internet-providers-to-discount-fee-for-poor/ White House urges ISPs to cut fees for the poor

Justin Scacco

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