Some low-income homes could get free Internet

A stock image of an Internet server with Ethernet cables
(Stock image via Pexels)

Some low-income households could be eligible for government subsidies that will make the cost of their broadband Internet service free, the White House said on Monday.

The perk is part of a new partnership between federal officials and around 20 Internet service providers that offer broadband home Internet service in the United States. It expands the Affordable Connectivity Program, a long-term federal broadband subsidy that was introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ACP provides $30-a-month rebates for eligible homes that receive certain benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid or federal Pell Grants. Households that fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line are also eligible for the rebate.

The rebates are part of a larger broadband infrastructure package approved by Congress late last year.

On Monday, the White House said it had reached an agreement with around 20 private companies that provide broadband Internet service to offer a low-cost package that, once the rebates are applied, will effectively make Internet service free to qualified low-income Americans.

Astound, AT&T, Comcast, Cox Corporation, Verizon Fios, Frontier, Wide Open West (WOW!) and Charter (Spectrum) are among the providers offering Internet packages at or below $30 a month for qualified low-income households. Those companies have agreed to offer at base speed of at least 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) in their low-income Internet package.

The White House says another 1,300 Internet service providers accept the ACP rebate, which will help lower Internet-related bills for up to 48 million eligible households.

Officials said they will work with federal agencies and organizations in the private sector to conduct outreach about the new program. The Social Security Administration will e-mail nearly 2 million income recipients to let them know about their eligibility, officials said; other organizations, like the United Way, Goodwill and Catholic Charities USA, will conduct their own outreach initiatives.

Those interested in finding out about eligibility requirements can visit the White House’s new subsidized Internet portal at GetInternet.gov.