FACT SHEET: Vice President Harris Announces Funding to Lower Internet Costs for Families and Expand High Speed Internet Access
Over 16 million households now saving $500 million per month, thanks to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
Vice President announces over $175 million for Minority Serving institutions to connect more young Americans with affordable, high-speed internet
High-speed internet has become an essential tool to access education, healthcare, and work. Still, too many are left without high-speed internet because of lacking infrastructure, costs or the lack of skills to utilize the technology. This is particularly notable in communities of color, rural communities and among older Americans where the lack of affordable, reliable high-speed internet is compounding economic, health and other disparities.
That's why President Biden and Vice President Harris worked with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to include a record $65 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand "Internet for All" — so that everyone in America has access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. The Administration also secured critical funding for affordable high-speed internet in the American Rescue Plan and general appropriations laws. The Administration's efforts are centered around three principles—access, affordability and equity. Across the laws, Internet for All programs will build high-speed internet infrastructure, teach digital skills, and provide necessary technology to ensure that everyone in America has the access and skills they need to fully participate in today's society.
Today in South Carolina, Vice President Harris is highlighting the impact of these investments to date, while announcing new milestones in the effort to increase access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet and close the digital divide including:
- The Affordable Connectivity Program's (ACP) enrollment is now up 40% since President Biden and Vice President Harris launched GetInternet.gov;
- Consumers are now saving over $500M per month as a result of the ACP;
- The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is announcing more than $175 million to 61 Minority Serving Institutions for internet access, equipment, and training; and,
- NTIA is committing to an intentional HBCU engagement strategy to ensure these institutions find applicable resources to connect their campuses and communities.
Approximately 1 in 5 Americans who do not use the internet cite cost as the key factor. These consumers are more likely to have school aged kids, make under $25,000 per year and identify as a person of color. Since so much of our society has moved online, this discrepancy can continue to exacerbate other inequalities. The Affordable Connectivity Program is designed to help close this divide.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is a key part of the Administration's Internet for All initiative and the largest internet affordability program in our nation's history. Experts estimate that as many as 48 million households—or nearly 40% of households in the country—qualify for the ACP.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), provides eligible households up to $30/month (or $75/month on qualifying Tribal lands) off internet bills, as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 off a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. To further lower costs, in May 2022, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced commitments from internet service providers across the country to offer high-speed plans that are fully covered by the Affordable Connectivity Program—meaning millions of working families can now get high-speed internet without paying a dime. They simultaneously launched GetInternet.gov—a one-stop shop to check eligibility and sign up.
In July 2022, the Vice President made a call to action to states and federal agencies to help spread the word about the Affordable Connectivity Program. This call to action led to tens of millions of text messages, emails, letters and flyers sent directly to consumers to inform them about this opportunity.
Today, Vice President Harris is announcing another milestone in this program. The Affordable Connectivity Program is now reaching over 16 million households, saving Americans over half-a-billion dollars per month. This is a 40% increase since the announcement of GetInternet.gov.
Centering Equity in Access
For consumers who do not cite affordability as an impediment to access there could be other factors such as, a shortage of modern infrastructure in their area, unavailability of devices or a lack of support to gain digital skills. That's why the Biden-Harris Administration's "Internet for All" initiative is taking a holistic approach to closing the digital divide.
The Biden-Harris Administration believes that a strong economy is an equitable economy and today's economy is online. Closing the digital divide will allow Americans to access the resources they need and strengthen the U.S. economy to compete in the 21st Century.
- American Rescue Plan: For over 20 years, now we have had a digital divide in this country – and the pandemic further accentuated the problem. President Biden responded with the American Rescue Plan to provide the immediate support communities needed to increase access during the pandemic. Nationally, the American Rescue Plan has provided more than $25 billion for high-speed internet infrastructure and adoption.
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Last summer, every state and territory signed-on to the "Internet for All" initiative, agreeing to participate in the Digital Equity and Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) programs funded through President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and implemented by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA is on track to announce allocations for the BEAD program by June 30th 2023. This program is the largest single tranche of funding and will provide nearly $42 billion nationwide.
To ensure funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is utilized to connect those who need it most, the Biden-Harris Administration recently announced funding for $53 million in state planning funds for digital equity. With this investment, every state, DC and Puerto Rico will produce a digital equity plan to enhance adoption and use of the internet across covered populations in their state. These plans are intended to support the creation of community-centric solutions, including partnerships with community organizations and anchor institutions.
Today's announcement helps kick-off this work, providing over $175 million to 61 Minority Serving Institutions. These grants funded through the Department of Commerce's Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will help schools fund enhancements to high-speed internet infrastructure, purchase equipment, devices and software, and provide digital skills training and upskilling for IT staff. Minority Serving Institutions serve as centers of academic excellence all across the country and serve as a catalyst to develop leaders for our nation. Today's, announcement is an investment in those students.
To ensure that HBCU's are fully included and utilized in the process to expand affordable high-speed internet across the country, the Biden-Harris Administration is committing to an intentional HBCU engagement strategy. This strategy recognizes that while these institutions are critical anchors that deliver outsized impacts, they often reside in communities that have long faced a disproportionate lack of access. This commitment will provide each HBCU with direct contact to a Federal Program Officer within their state that will help these institutions find applicable resources to execute their own programs, participate in the state-wide high-speed internet and digital equity planning programs, and help facilitate the promotion of the ACP on campus and within their communities.
The Biden-Harris Administration's Internet for All Initiative will ensure that every American has access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. For more information about how the Biden-Harris Administration is working to connect everyone in America please visit www.internetforall.gov. To sign-up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, please visit www.getinternet.gov.
Kamala Harris, FACT SHEET: Vice President Harris Announces Funding to Lower Internet Costs for Families and Expand High Speed Internet Access Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/359854