In an effort to bring down the cost of broadband access in the United State, on Monday, the White House announced commitments from 20 internet service providers (ISPs) to join the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which aims to make high-speed internet affordable for rural and urban residents.
After its initial announcement last year, the FCC first approved the initiative in January and the U.S. government now boasts 20 of the largest ISPs in the country as part of the program. These companies have committed to offering lower-cost high-speed broadband, with a minimum of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps), to millions of Americans previously at risk of digital disconnection. Additionally, the White House has launched a new website, getinternet.gov, for people to sign up and check their eligibility for the program.
The ACP currently offers “eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills.” The White House’s newest initiative has additionally asked ISPs to provide high-speed internet plans for no more than $30 per month. This will effectively provide eligible families with high-speed internet at no cost to them. As the United States currently sits in the top ten countries with the most expensive internet in the world, this program could bring much-needed relief to millions of citizens.
For reference, European countries such as France and Italy offer 60 Mbps for an average of $30 per month, while the US average sits at around $67 per month for the same amount.
The FCC is subsidizing $14.2 billion to get the connectivity initiative off the ground, with the 20 ISPs able to cover about 80% of US households. The White House said in their announcement, “Too many families go without high-speed internet because of the cost or have to cut back on other essentials to make their monthly internet service payments.” The government hopes the ACP will “either increase speeds or cut prices.”
With the support of President Biden and Vice President Harris, The White House continued, “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 current ACP participants include the following:
- Altice (Optimum and Suddenlink)
- Cox Communications
- Jackson Energy Authority
- Spectrum (Charter)
- Verizon (Fios only)
- Vermont Telephone Company
- Vexus Fiber
- Wow! Internet
Several select ISPs have offered low-cost plans in the past, such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Although with the backing of the government, affordable internet has the potential to reach millions more Americans.