Cable companies to offer effectively free internet to low-income homes

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Vice President Kamala Harris during an event on high-speed internet access.
Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

The Biden administration said it secured commitments from 20 internet service providers to either reduce prices or increase speeds to serve low-income households, according to a White House press release published Monday.

The news means that tens of millions of households could receive high-speed internet at no cost, according to the White House. Low-income households qualifying for the Affordable Connectivity Program, passed by Congress, can receive $30 per month off of their internet bills. Since the 20 ISPs that made the commitment to the White House agreed to offer high-speed internet plans to ACP households at no more than that amount, ACP participants can receive internet service effectively for free.

The White House said the commitments come from companies including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast (parent company of CNBC owner NBCUniversal). In total, the participating ISPs offer high-speed internet in places where more than 80% of the U.S. population lives and close to 50% of the rural population.

The commitments ensure such providers offer high-speed internet to families qualifying for the Affordable Connectivity Program for up to $30 per month. A high-speed plan, according to the White House, should offer download speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second everywhere the ISP’s infrastructure is capable of doing so.

Under the program, Verizon lowered its Fios service cost from $39.99 per month to $30 per month to offer upload and download speeds of at least 200 Megabits per second, the White House said. Spectrum doubled the speed of its $30 per month plan from 50 to 100 Megabits per second download speed for ACP participants, it added.

The administration also launched GetInternet.gov to direct consumers on how to sign up for ACP and find local providers who are part of the program. It also plans to reach out to qualifying households through other federal aid programs they may receive, such as Pell Grants or Medicaid.

Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC parent company NBCUniversal.

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