President Joe Biden speaks at an event on lowering the cost of high-speed internet in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Joe Biden speaks at an event on lowering the cost of high-speed internet in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

At least 20 internet service providers to offer high-speed plans for no more than $30 a month under a deal forged by the new infrastructure law.

President Joe Biden announced Monday that his administration is partnering with 20 leading internet providers to reduce the price of high-speed internet plans for tens of millions of low-income Americans, including roughly one in four Wisconsinites, making them eligible for free or near-free internet service through an already existing federal program.

The White House said that participating companies have agreed to lower internet costs for individuals and households who qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to no more than $30 a month. The program, which was created by the infrastructure law Biden signed last year, offers eligible households federal subsidies to reduce their internet service costs by up to $30 per month, or $75 a month on tribal lands. 

In Wisconsin, an estimated 1.5 million people, or 650,000 households, qualify for the program, 

Earlier: ‘I Don’t Want to Move’: How Wisconsin’s Broadband Gaps Hurt Rural Communities

Monday’s announcement effectively means that many individuals who are eligible for the program and sign up with a participating provider will receive free internet service. For example, Verizon previously offered its 200 Mbps Fios service for $40, but reduced the cost to $30 per month for households that qualify for the ACP, which means the federal subsidies would cover the entire internet bill for many enrollees. 

“It’s going to change people’s lives,” Biden said during a speech at the White House on Monday. “High speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity.”

Participating providers include Comcast, Spectrum, Frontier, AT&T, and Verizon and cover more than 80% of the US population. Biden made clear there would be “no hidden fees,” “no tricks,” and no data caps and that eligible individuals in covered areas would have access to at least one high-speed internet plan for $30 a month.

To qualify for the ACP, at least one member of a household must have an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (about $27,000 for an individual or $55,000 for a family of four), or participate in government program such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits, free or reduced school meals, Federal Pell Grants, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or certain federal Tribal programs.

Thus far, only about 200,000 Wisconsin residents have enrolled in the ACP, but Wisconsin Democrats are encouraging eligible individuals to apply for the program. 

“The internet is a necessity, and now more than ever, having a broadband connection is essential for families to access job opportunities, health care services, educational experiences, and more,” Rep. Ron Kind said in February. “I encourage all interested Wisconsinites to see if they qualify and sign up for this critical program.”    

Visit GetInternet.gov or call (877) 384-2575 to find out if you’re eligible for the ACP and find participating internet providers in your area.

The White House said it views a high-speed plan as one that offers download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.

“That’s fast enough for a typical family of four to work from home, do schoolwork, browse the web, and stream high-definition shows and movies,” according to a White House fact sheet. “In addition, the administration asked providers to offer such plans with no fees and no data caps.”