Low-wage earners to get high-speed Internet for $30 in Biden program

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  2 weeks ago  •  19 comments

Low-wage earners to get high-speed Internet for $30 in Biden program
Public education officials speak often of students clustered at fast-food restaurants or coffee shops equipped with free WiFi to complete assignments because they lack Internet connectivity at home. During the pandemic, public libraries set up stations for elderly residents to access remote health care, allowing patients to communicate with doctors, but without the privacy to which many patients are entitled, health-care professionals say.

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www.washingtonpost.com   /business/2022/05/09/biden-internet-discount/

Low-wage earners to get high-speed Internet for $30 in Biden program


Jacob Bogage 6-7 minutes   5/9/2022





Twenty Internet providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, have agreed to provide high-speed service at a steep discount to low-income consumers, the White House announced Monday, significantly expanding broadband access for millions of Americans.

The plan, a feature of the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year, would cost qualifying households no more than $30 per month. The discounts plus existing federal Internet subsidies mean the government will cover the full cost of connectivity if consumers sign on with one of the 20 participating companies. The White House estimates the program will cover 48 million households, or 40 percent of the country.


More than 11.5 million households have already signed up to claim government subsidies.

The 100 megabit-per-second service is fast enough for a family to work from home, complete schoolwork, browse the Internet and stream high-definition movies and TV shows, the White House said.

“High-speed Internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity,” President Biden said in remarks announcing the program at the White House Rose Garden.

Households can qualify for the subsidies, called the Affordable Connectivity Program, if their income is at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, a member of the household participates in certain federal anti-poverty initiatives — including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, federal housing assistance, Pell Grant tuition assistance, or free or reduced-price school meals — or if the household already qualifies for an Internet provider’s low-income service program.

Consumers can check whether they qualify for discounted service at   getinternet.gov , or by calling (877) 384-2575.

Biden, during his 2020 campaign and in negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, has made Internet access a high priority, especially for rural America and low-income consumers. A 2021   study by the Pew Research Center   found that although access to broadband, the most reliable form of Internet connectivity, has increased among rural residents in the past decade, rural communities still lag well behind others in terms of service.

Roughly 7 in 10 adults in rural areas reported having home broadband access in 2021, Pew found; the same proportion had a desktop or laptop computer. Eight in 10 had a smartphone. Rates for urban and suburban households were between 5 and 10 percent better.

But in urban and suburban communities, the cost of Internet service has long been a bigger obstacle than network access, experts say. That has prevented families from getting online to access telehealth service, participate in educational activities or enjoy entertainment.

It has led some individuals to go to great lengths to access the Internet. Public education officials speak often of students clustered at fast-food restaurants or coffee shops equipped with free WiFi to complete assignments because they lack Internet connectivity at home. During the pandemic, public libraries set up stations for elderly residents to access remote health care, allowing patients to communicate with doctors, but without the privacy to which many patients are entitled, health-care professionals say.

“The cost of broadband is a driver of the digital divide,” said Chris Lewis, president and chief executive of the advocacy group Public Knowledge. “And that’s in all types of communities, urban, rural, suburban, you name it. ... Look at the reaction during the pandemic to people being upset that children in schools did not have access to broadband. That was not a rural issue. That was an issue in every community. And even if a family could afford broadband and their kids were doing school over broadband, they knew someone in their school, one of their kids’ friends, who was not connected to quality broadband.”

Biden’s infrastructure package reserved $65 billion to improve the nation’s broadband network. Most of that funding will go to states for projects directed by local policymakers, but a $14 billion pool was set aside for Internet subsidies.

The discount program faces early hurdles because the households it is meant to serve are not online and therefore more difficult to reach. The White House said it would partner with other federal agencies, state and city governments and charitable groups to spread the word.

But some experts worried Monday about the longevity of the program. By some estimates, the money for subsidies will run out by 2025, potentially leaving millions of families with a brand-new monthly bill after three years of free, or significantly cheaper, service.

“If we’re going to subsidize broadband, we need to bring it down to $0,” said Christopher Ali, associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and author of the 2021 book   “Farm Fresh Broadband.”   “For a lot of families, even $10 a month is expensive. If we look at it by the numbers, there are more people who can’t afford Internet access than people who don’t have access to a network.”

But the program raised questions among experts on how Internet service providers have priced their products. The discounts apply only to low-income customers, but providers often market their products to other individuals at significantly higher prices. That raises issues of price transparency, experts said, even as Monday’s announcement is a positive step for increasing Internet access.

“It will hopefully get Comcast and AT&T and other broadband providers more customers. That’s probably a good thing for them,” Lewis said. “Are they getting customers that are a loss leader for them or customers that make money for them? We don’t know because no one studied the pricing and competition in the marketplace.”




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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

Where is Rush Limbaugh when you need someone to complain about poor people getting help? 

Oh yeah he dead.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

How they gonna figure out who qualifies?

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.1.1  Tessylo  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    2 weeks ago

Household income?

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
1.1.2  Right Down the Center  replied to  Tessylo @1.1.1    2 weeks ago

Another incentive to not work.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Right Down the Center @1.1.2    2 weeks ago

jrSmiley_80_smiley_image.gif

Yea, yea, yea - only paying $30 a month for the internet will mean they never have to work again!

jrSmiley_78_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
1.1.4  Right Down the Center  replied to  Tessylo @1.1.3    2 weeks ago

Not in and of itself silly, just one more thing added to all the other free and cheap stuff Biden and his minions want to give away to buy votes.  That is why I said another.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
1.2  Ronin2  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

More "free shit". At least Democrats got the "shit" part right; they are definitely full of it.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.2.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Ronin2 @1.2    2 weeks ago

And probably increased taxes on the part of those middle class that do work for a living.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2  Texan1211    2 weeks ago

200% over the federal poverty level is now considered poor?

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
3  Right Down the Center    2 weeks ago

Of course you can't give them cheap internet that someone else will pay for without giving them new computers and smart tv's.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
3.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Right Down the Center @3    2 weeks ago
Of course you can't give them cheap internet that someone else will pay for without giving them new computers and smart tv's.

You're not going not going to try to argue that Americans don't need more entertainment during these trying times are you? Seriously?

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
3.1.1  Right Down the Center  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1    2 weeks ago

Other than the triple negative you may be right.  Sitting around waiting for someone to offer 35 dollars an hour to count socks and put them in a box can get pretty boring so there has to be free binge watching available. Joe will probably give some people free netflix next.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
3.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Right Down the Center @3.1.1    2 weeks ago

Triple negative, good one.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
4  Drinker of the Wry    2 weeks ago
Roughly 7 in 10 adults in rural areas reported having home broadband access in 2021, Pew found; the same proportion had a desktop or laptop computer. Eight in 10 had a smartphone. Rates for urban and suburban households were between 5 and 10 percent better. But in urban and suburban communities, the cost of Internet service has long been a bigger obstacle than network access, experts say. That has prevented families from getting online to access telehealth service, participate in educational activities or enjoy entertainment.

I wonder why the experts say that?  With better rates and better economies than for rural households, urban and suburban households should be enjoying greater access.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
5  Drinker of the Wry    2 weeks ago

Triple negative, good one.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
6  squiggy    2 weeks ago

"Public education officials speak often of students clustered at fast-food restaurants or coffee shops equipped with free WiFi to complete assignments..."

Kids have always cluttered restaurants. If they were seriously studying, they'd be at the library. All those poor kids with phones have no service at home? Another public-education bogeyman.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7  Trout Giggles    2 weeks ago

Internet has become a much needed utlility just like water and electric. During the covid pandemic the news would tell viewers which schools would have internet available so kids get their assignments. I don't think I could do without the internet

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
8  Hallux    2 weeks ago

Meh, hook it up to their microwaves so they can download all the SPAM directly to them.

512

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
9  Tacos!    2 weeks ago

Government is always spending money on all sorts of marginal projects that either benefit special interests or people in other countries, and we say, “Why don’t they spend that money on regular people here at home?” So now they are. Good.

 
 

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