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US government cuts internet costs for low-income families

US President Joe Biden. — AFP/file   

WASHINGTON: The United States government has reached agreements with 20 major telecom companies to cut costs or raise internet broadband speeds for tens of millions of eligible households, the White House announced Monday.

The “Affordable Connectivity Programme” (ACP) requires internet service providers who have signed up to give eligible households “high-speed, high-quality internet plans” for no more than 30 US dollars per month, the administration said in a statement.

“Lowering prices — including the cost of high-speed internet service — is President (Joe) Biden’s top priority,” said the statement, which added that the new programme was part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress last year.

Households are eligible for the programme if their income is below twice the US federal poverty level, or if they already qualify for certain other federal poverty alleviation programmes such as Medicaid or nutritional assistance.

The federal poverty level for a family of four in 2022 is $27,750 per year.

The Biden administration estimates more than 48 million households will qualify for the programme, with more than 11.5 million households already signed up, the statement said.

Additionally, eligible households can receive a discount of up to 30 dollars per month on any internet service plan offered by a participating provider, with households on Native American tribal lands eligible for discounts of up to 75 dollars per month.

Several major US telecom companies were among those to sign up to offer services through the new program, including Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon and Cox Communications.

“We have been working on digital equity issues for over a decade and believe this new programme offers even more support to achieve those goals,” said David N Watson, chief executive and president of Comcast Cable, in a statement.

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