By Shawn Nowlin
No longer a luxury, for most households across the nation, high-speed internet is now a necessity. Thanks to the Biden Administration, securing high-speed, cost-efficient internet at home just got much easier for millions of people.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is the largest high-speed affordability program in US history. A simple gist of how it works is as follows: the FCC benefit program will ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for school, work, healthcare and more.
Limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household, the ACP will provide a discount of up to $30 per month toward high-speed internet service. Included in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that passed through Congress earlier this year is $14.2 billion specifically allocated for the ACP.
“High speed internet is not a luxury any longer,” President Biden said during the unveiling of the program in the White House Rose Garden. “It’s a necessity, and that’s why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 43 percent of adults who make less than $35,000 a year lack internet access. Because both parents of Kapri Daughton, a college sophomore, earn six figures annually, she has never had to worry about not owning the most up-to-date laptops and the best internet access that money can buy. “I know how blessed I am. If my parents were in a different tax-bracket, my life would be completely different,” she said. “I try to share my resources with my friends whenever they ask. No student should lack internet access. I find that concept unfathomable.”
At the height of the pandemic, high school students Jessica Coleman and April Walker were often late on classwork assignments because neither had a stable internet connection at home. The best friends constantly relied on each other to complete whatever was asked of them.
“We did whatever was required to get the job done. Sometimes we would sit in a parking lot and use whichever free Wi-Fi was available,” said Coleman before Walker added, “It taught us how to be resourceful. When adversity hits us in the future, we know that we have each other to get through anything that comes our way.”
Households that earn roughly $60,000 or less annually are eligible for the program. Confident that she will qualify, Lisa Johnson says the money she’ll save each month will go towards purchasing more groceries. “Every penny counts. This program will help me put more food on the table for my family,” she said.
Some 48 million households nationwide are expected to benefit from the ACP, including a plurality of families throughout the City of Salem. More information can be found by visiting fcc.gov.