Electronic income

Cheaper Internet Program for Low-Income Americans Launches Today

Starting today, eligible U.S. residents can apply for assistance with their internet bills through the new Affordable Connectivity Program. The program was launched today with $ 14.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in November.

Households can charge up to $ 30 per month on their Internet service bill. For households on qualifying tribal lands, the rebate can be up to $ 75 per month. The program could help connect millions of people to the internet who haven’t had access to it at home, especially in communities that have historically faced more barriers to getting online.

Almost a third of people living on tribal lands did not have high-speed internet access at home in 2017, according to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report. This is compared to just 1.5% of city dwellers without broadband internet access. In addition to limited infrastructure, cost is often another barrier. The United States has the second highest cost of broadband out of 35 countries surveyed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And Native Americans and Alaska Natives have the highest poverty rate of any ethnic group in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau.

To apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program, someone must be able to connect online. They will need to visit ACPBenefit.org to apply or print an application by mail.

Those eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program can also receive a one-time rebate of $ 100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer from participating vendors (including T-Mobil, AT&T, and Verizon).

The Affordable Connectivity Program is essentially a long-term replacement for the temporary emergency broadband benefits program launched to help Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program offered a higher rebate of $ 50 per month to households not living on tribal lands, and will run until March 1, 2022.

While the payment will be lower for some households, the FCC has broadened the criteria for who can apply. Being eligible for the WIC (the food assistance program for women, infants and children) now also makes a household eligible for the affordable connectivity program. And a household whose income is 200% or less of federal poverty guidelines is also newly eligible.

There is more funding on the verge of bridging the digital divide in the United States. The new $ 1 trillion infrastructure law includes $ 65 billion to boost broadband access. More than 30 million Americans live somewhere without adequate broadband infrastructure, according to a Biden administration fact sheet.