May 9 (UPI) — The White House said Monday that President Joe Biden will announce an agreement with many of the country’s leading Internet providers to lower costs and increase broadband speeds for millions through the bipartisan infrastructure law.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to speak about the effort on Monday afternoon and detail the thrust of the plan, which says that the Internet has become essential and should not be restricted by where people live.
The White House said the administration worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Affordable Connectivity Program, which allow homes to cut Internet costs by as much as $30 per month and $75 monthly on tribal lands.
“To ensure the most efficient use of those public dollars and to deliver maximum cost savings to families, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured commitments from 20 leading Internet providers — covering more than 80% of the U.S. population across urban, suburban and rural areas — to either increase speeds or cut prices,” the White House said in a statement.
Officials said that a new website, GetInternet.gov, will help eligible Americans navigate the program while others will be reached through federal agencies like Social Security and Medicaid. Nonprofits like Goodwill and the United Way will also promote the program.
“We have been working on digital equity issues for over a decade and believe this new program offers even more support to achieve those goals,” Comcast CEO David Watson said in a statement. “We are proud to work together with our government and community partners to close the digital divide.”
Teresa Elder, CEO of regional Internet provider Wow, said COVID-19 showed how critical affordable, high-speed Internet service is for Americans who live on limited incomes.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the barriers that exist for people who have limited or no access to reliable, high-speed Internet, which is a necessity in today’s remote learning and working environment,” Elder said in a statement.
“It’s time for every American to experience the social, economic, health, employment and educational benefits of universal scaled access to the Internet,” AT&T CEO John Stankey added.
“High-speed Internet service is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity,” the White House said. “But 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.
“Lowering prices — including the cost of high-speed internet service — is President Biden’s top priority. Today, President Biden and Vice President Harris are announcing that they have secured private sector commitments that will lower high-speed Internet costs for millions of American families.”
Biden is scheduled to announce more details of the plan in the Rose Garden of the White House at 1:30 p.m. EDT Monday.