The US President Joe Biden and VP Harris has secured commitments from 20 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for discounted broadband connections for those Americans on low incomes.

The White House announcement on Monday is part of the Biden administration priority to ensure that a person’s wealth should not dictate if they can obtain access to the Internet.

The US move mirrors a similar development over here in the United Kingdom. In May 2021 BT revealed it was launching a half-price tariff for fibre broadband connections for millions of British households on low incomes.

Low income connectivity

That ‘BT Home Essentials’ tariff was launched in June 2021 for 4.6 million UK households on universal credit (and other legacy benefits).

It gives them access to cheap at-cost fibre broadband and call packages.

Meanwhile the US move will help 48 million households in America, which will be eligible for $30 monthly plans.

“High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury- it’s a necessity,” said the White House. “But too many families go without high-speed internet because of the cost or have to cut back on other essentials to make their monthly internet service payments.”

“Lowering prices – including the cost of high-speed internet service – is President Biden’s top priority,” it said. “Today, President Biden and Vice President Harris are announcing that they have secured private sector commitments that will lower high-speed internet costs for millions of American families.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which allows tens of millions of American households to reduce their internet service costs by up to $30/month (or $75/month on Tribal lands).

The agreement with 20 leading US ISPs apparently covers more than 80 percent of the US population, including those in rural areas.

“I want to thank the Vice President, Vice President Harris, for leading this effort and this administration on this issue,” President Biden said.

“And I’m proud to announce today that our administration has brought together Democrats, Republicans, the private sector to lower the high-speed Internet costs for tens of millions of Americans,” he added.

Tough times

President Biden pointed to the example of cash stricken parents during the pandemic driving into the car park of a McDonald’s, so their children could connect to the Internet in order to do their homework.

He also cited how high-speed Internet was so vital in allowing senior citizens to connect to their doctors via video calls.

And he pointed to how essential high-speed Internet was to allowing students to keep learning remotely when they could not attend school for Covid reasons.

“You know, the need for high-speed Internet is – is a little bit like what used to be probably what my grandfather talked about: needing to have a telephone,” said President Biden. “It’s pretty consequential. And it’s only going to keep growing, this need. High-speed Internet is not a luxury any longer, it’s a necessity.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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