Access to the internet is, for many, a basic necessity. The pandemic has proven a need for stable, high-speed connections so that people can work from home. But it also serves as a vital tool for those looking for employment.
Unfortunately, affordable internet access isn’t as widespread as many think. There are still vast swaths of the population, especially in under-served communities, that don’t have access. The issue is being addressed through free and low-cost internet.
Several cable companies have already started to offer reduced access. Read on to see what this entails and if you qualify for affordable internet access.
Here’s the backstory
In a statement from The White House, President Biden expressed the need for American families to access high-speed internet. Still, it is prohibitively expensive for some. Part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to solve this issue.
The goal of ACP is to reduce the cost of internet access for millions of Americans by up to $30 per month. It could reduce costs by up to $75 per month on Tribal lands. President Biden added that 20 internet companies have already committed to ACP, vowing to provide eligible households with internet for no more than $30 per month.
For others, the services will be free. “From large providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon serving dozens of states, to smaller providers serving rural areas like Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina, the commitments will allow tens of millions of ACP-eligible households to receive high-speed internet at no cost,” The White House explained in the statement.
The internet speed expected with ACP providers is a minimum of 100 Mbps.
What you can do about it
The ACP is designed for eligible families who meet specific criteria, and there are three ways to do so. Here are the ways to qualify:
- Your income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For example, a two-person household will qualify if the income is below $36,620. A four-person family will be eligible if the combined income is below $55,500.
- You or someone in your household participates in SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, FPHA, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit or similar programs.
- You already meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income internet program.
The following cable companies have committed to providing eligible families with at least one high-speed internet connection at $30 or less per month:
- Allo Communications
- AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom)
- Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink)
- Cox Communications
- Jackson Energy Authority
- Verizon (Fios only)
- Vermont Telephone Company
- Vexus Fiber
If you qualify for ACP, you can sign up in two ways. The first is through The White House’s Get Internet page. While the page has detailed instructions, the application forms are in PDF format, and you need to mail them in. Once approved, you’ll need to choose an internet provider.
The other method is to sign up through your existing internet service provider if it participates in the program. The links above will take you directly to the signup page for the respective provider.
If you need assistance with buying a tablet or a laptop, the ACP can also help. ACP-eligible households can get a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.