Millions Could Get Free Broadband

John Lister's picture

Twenty US Internet providers have agreed to offer low-cost Internet plans to people on lower incomes. The deal combines with government subsidies to mean many people will get free broadband.

Following the recent infrastructure bill passing, the federal government now offers a subsidy of $30 taken off broadband bills for around 48 million households.

The Affordable Connectivity Program covers low income households, plus those with people eligible for public programs such as Medicaid and veterans pensions. More than 11.5 million people have already claimed the subsidy. (Source: yahoo.com)

The subsidy is paid by the government to providers towards the bill, meaning the users won't get a cash payment. As it's a subsidy, it's limited to the cost of the service that's below $30 a month.

$30 Price Cap

The new agreement means the Internet providers will agree to offer people on the program a broadband package costing no more than $30 a month. That means the subsidy will cover the costs completely.

The 20 providers, including major companies such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, are said to cover around 80 percent of the US population, including 50 percent of people in rural areas.

To be covered, the service must provide at least a download speed of 100 megabits per second wherever the provider's infrastructure allow it. In other words, the Internet provider can't intentionally cap the speed below this level. The rules also mean the providers can't impose any other fees or have a monthly data use limit.

Consumer Choice Boost

The White House notes different providers have found different ways to meet the threshold, with Verizon cutting the cost of package while Spectrum doubled the speed of a $30 program. (Source: whitehouse.gov)

It also says its working on other ways to improve broadband availability and affordability, including:

  • grants for expanding broadband infrastructure;
     
  • a "broadband nutrition label" to make it easier to compare providers and packages; and
     
  • rules to block apartment and office block landlords from striking deals that leave residential and business tenants no choice about their Internet provider.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it right to use federal money to subsidize broadband provision? Does society benefit from more people having high-speed internet? Would it be better to concentrate on expanding broadband infrastructure to reach more homes?

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Comments

Chief's picture

The poor have cars, iphones, Section 8, TVs.
The homeless have cars, iphones, free meals at the mission (well, shoot, anyone can get free meals at the mission - you don't have to be homeless).

Both already receive government assistance, if not outright government welfare.

If people want free wireless, go to Starbucks or the library!

Quit spending taxpayer money on boondoogles!

buzzallnight's picture

Is it right to use federal money to subsidize broadband provision?

There is no competition is many areas because government makes it harder for more than one company to exist and multiple levels of government tax cable service.

Does society benefit from more people having high-speed internet?

They would benefit from the taxes paid per subscriber and other ways as well.

Would it be better to concentrate on expanding broadband infrastructure to reach more homes?

Most broadband infrastructure is currently provided by private companies
so in what way are you going to expand broadband infrastructure to reach more homes?