- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2022

The Biden administration said Monday it has partnered with 20 leading providers to cap internet service at $30 per month for an estimated 48 million households, characterizing high-speed access as essential to life in the 21st century.

Leading companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon will provide enrollees in dozens of states with internet service of at least 100 Megabits per second. Smaller providers such as Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina will serve rural areas, according to a White House fact sheet.

Providers are capping costs under a part of the bipartisan infrastructure law known as the Affordable Connectivity Program.

“How many times have you seen a mom or dad drive up to a parking lot outside the McDonald’s just so they can get connected so their kid can do their homework during the pandemic? Literally. It’s just not right. It’s not who we are,” President Biden said from the White House Rose Garden. “High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said it is not just students. Seniors often need a strong connection to manage their prescriptions.

“In the 21st century, access to the internet is essential for success,” Ms. Harris said.

The announcement is part of Mr. Biden’s effort to promote the infrastructure law, which called for broader internet access alongside the construction of roads and bridges. Mr. Biden is also using federal levers to try and lower the costs of goods and services amid concerns about runaway inflation.

“Lowering prices — including the cost of high-speed internet service — is President Biden’s top priority,” the White House said.

The administration is launching GetInternet.gov to help people figure out if they qualify for the program based on their incomes.

Mr. Biden said Americans will qualify if their income is twice the federal poverty level — about $55,000 per year for a family of four, or $27,000 for an individual.

The White House said agencies that manage federal programs like Medicaid, reduced school lunch and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will promote the internet program among enrollees, because they will automatically qualify.

Also, Michigan; Massachusetts; Philadelphia; Mesa, Arizona; and New York City have agreed to text millions of eligible households.

The program is known as the ACP in government shorthand, but the president said he will continue to refer to it as the Affordable Connectivity Program.

“I am so tired of acronyms,” Mr. Biden said. “I can’t stand them.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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