The White House announced Monday that 20 internet service providers will offer low-cost or free internet service to low-income households in an effort to boost connectivity across the country.
According to the Biden administration, about 48 million households — roughly 40% of U.S. households — are eligible for the benefit under the Affordable Connectivity Program. The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion in funding for the program.
Through this initiative, eligible Internet subscribers could 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 Commissionnearly 16 million Americans do not have access to a fixed broadband internet connection. In rural areas, almost a quarter of the population does not have access to it. In the tribal areas, almost a third of the population does not have access to it.
At a Monday press conference, President Joe Biden said high-speed internet was no longer a luxury, but a “necessity”.
“When we connect people to high-speed internet, we connect them to opportunity…the opportunity to live healthier, happier, more prosperous lives,” Vice President Kamala Harris said.
Here’s what to know about CPA, 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 level, or if a household member participates in other federal programs, including: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits, Pell Grant and Medicaid.
A household is considered a group of people who live together and share income and expenses. They are not required to be related to each other. The benefit is limited to one per household and is not transferable.
How to apply?
You can apply for 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 sent by mail. 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 application process. A complete list of existing service providers is included.
To apply, you will need to provide either your Social Security number, Tribal ID, or other government identification, including a driver’s license, military ID, passport, or tax ID.
What is the internet speed?
Under this plan, ISPs offer a minimum download speed of 100 Mbps, which is considered fast enough for a typical four-person household to video conference, stream movies or TV, etc. .
What are the participating internet service providers?
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?
CPA-eligible households can also get a one-time rebate of up to $100 to purchase a device like a laptop or tablet, with a copay between $10 and $50. To get a discounted device, contact a participating business.
In Washington State, this includes: Wireless AirVoice, Wireless Warranty, Boost Mobile, Wireless Culture, Wireless Culture, Reporting networks (NeuBeam), Easy wireless, enTouch wireless, Telecom surplus, Internet FastMesh, Mobile Generation, human-IT, Indoor Cellular, Locatel Communications, Native network, North American local, PC for individuals, Wireless Q-Link, red pocket, Wireless Select, Wireless Standing, SWA CONNECTION, TerraCom, Tone Communication Services, cordless torch, wireless tracfone and TruConnect.
For other states, visit: fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers.