Government subsidy makes high-speed Internet free for millions of US households

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,127   +154
Staff member
In brief: On Monday, the Biden Administration said it secured commitments from 20 leading Internet service providers to effectively offer free high-speed connectivity to low income households. Participating ISPs cover more than 80 percent of the US population, we're told.

As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the administration created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which will allow millions of households to reduce Internet costs by up to $30 a month (or $75 a month for those living on Tribal lands) through the federal subsidy.

To get the most out of the program, the government teamed with leading providers willing to either increase speeds or cut prices to meet a minimum of 100 Megabits per second for no more than $30 per month. Verizon, for example, lowered the cost of its Fios 200 Mbps plan from $39.99 a month to $30 a month. Spectrum, meanwhile, doubled the speed of its $30 plan to reach 100 Mbps.

Participating ISPs also agreed not to implement additional fees and data caps.

It is estimated that some 48 million households will qualify for the ACP based on their income or participation in in existing programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid or Lifeline. The full list of eligibility requirements can be found over on the White House website.

Interested parties can reach out to their local ISP for details on how to sign up.

Image credit John Schnobrich, NASA

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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,360   +5,586
Nope. ISPs have recieved millions. the 80% of americans, OTOH, will recieve nothing, and in 10 years the FCC will fine carriers for 1% of this subsidy for not using it correctly. Just like the other 100 times they've gotten money to improve infastructure and priovide service.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,694   +6,629
Nope. ISPs have recieved millions. the 80% of americans, OTOH, will recieve nothing, and in 10 years the FCC will fine carriers for 1% of this subsidy for not using it correctly. Just like the other 100 times they've gotten money to improve infastructure and priovide service.
I have to agree based on the past performance of ISP with similar subsidies. IMO, this program will represent yet another government program that the ISPs will find a way to abuse without delivering on their promises.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,360   +5,586
I have to agree based on the past performance of ISP with similar subsidies. IMO, this program will represent yet another government program that the ISPs will find a way to abuse without delivering on their promises.
I mean in my area 100mbps is $39 a month, for the first year, then goes to $100 a month. ATT doesnt offer anything over 25 Mbps DSL.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,694   +6,629
I mean in my area 100mbps is $39 a month, for the first year, then goes to $100 a month. ATT doesnt offer anything over 25 Mbps DSL.
That sucks, and I feel your pain. Frontier offers DSL in our area, however, at my home, we are 30,000' from the switch so the best DSL for us was only 500kbps (no, that is not an error).

I live in an area that is lucking out. There's a smallish, at present anyway, ISP providing a minimum of 500Mbps - symmetric - through FTTH for $50/mo in direct competition to Spetrum - who, needless to say, I dropped at virtually the instant the FTTH service was made available at my home. That ISP is gradually laying fiber throughout our area, and I am sure Spectrum is getting worried.

I had a long list of reasons I did not like Spectrum (disgusting SCUM, mainly) including slamming my elderly mother onto their phone service, so it should have been obvious to them why I dropped.

It was funny, actually, two days after I dropped them, I got a letter from they saying "We've doubled your internet speed from 100Mbps to 200Mbps at no extra charge." I could only laugh since I got 5x the speed for less than the $70/mo I was paying for Spectrum.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,360   +5,586
That sucks, and I feel your pain. Frontier offers DSL in our area, however, at my home, we are 30,000' from the switch so the best DSL for us was only 500kbps (no, that is not an error).

I live in an area that is lucking out. There's a smallish, at present anyway, ISP providing a minimum of 500Mbps - symmetric - through FTTH for $50/mo in direct competition to Spetrum - who, needless to say, I dropped at virtually the instant the FTTH service was made available at my home. That ISP is gradually laying fiber throughout our area, and I am sure Spectrum is getting worried.

I had a long list of reasons I did not like Spectrum (disgusting SCUM, mainly) including slamming my elderly mother onto their phone service, so it should have been obvious to them why I dropped.

It was funny, actually, two days after I dropped them, I got a letter from they saying "We've doubled your internet speed from 100Mbps to 200Mbps at no extra charge." I could only laugh since I got 5x the speed for less than the $70/mo I was paying for Spectrum.
ATT supposedly is opening up fiber access, however our city has a monopoly via the local cable company, so we'll never get it. the cable co is supposed to be bringing out gig service, but they've been claiming this for 4 years now. Frontier here is completely useless. Spectrum serves the next county over but not ours.

But hey, you can get 200mbps with unlimited data and 5mbps up for only $140 a month! And you get to see ads for att multi gig fiber that still isnt open yet
 

Geralt

Posts: 1,125   +1,738
I pay 14 dollars for internet 1Gbps + premium plan for my phone + 209 TV channels. Even now Moscow is cheap.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,694   +6,629
ATT supposedly is opening up fiber access, however our city has a monopoly via the local cable company, so we'll never get it. the cable co is supposed to be bringing out gig service, but they've been claiming this for 4 years now. Frontier here is completely useless. Spectrum serves the next county over but not ours.

But hey, you can get 200mbps with unlimited data and 5mbps up for only $140 a month! And you get to see ads for att multi gig fiber that still isnt open yet
FWIW - I'm not sure what exactly changed in our area such that Spectrum's monopoly claim got over-ruled, but I am in NY State - and I think something changed at the state level. Prior to this new ISP being allowed to provide service to homeowners, they were providing fiber to businesses.

My guess is that something in state law changed allowing providers like this one to lay infrastructure and provide some relief from the ISP monopolies that previously existed in the state. All I can say is that its a win for consumers. Since this ISP started gaining more customers, Spectrum has been increasing the speeds of their ISP service without additional charge, however, for many customers, like me or not, I think Spectrum's attempt to put their finger in the dike of their ISP monopoly is far too little and far too late. The only other ISP service available was Frontier's DSL - which really could not compete, speed-wise, with Spectrum.

EDIT - spelled dike with a y šŸ¤£
 

mctommy

Posts: 417   +143
ATT supposedly is opening up fiber access, however our city has a monopoly via the local cable company, so we'll never get it. the cable co is supposed to be bringing out gig service, but they've been claiming this for 4 years now. Frontier here is completely useless. Spectrum serves the next county over but not ours.

But hey, you can get 200mbps with unlimited data and 5mbps up for only $140 a month! And you get to see ads for att multi gig fiber that still isnt open yet

What people need to realize that high speed internet (in the US) has been either a single monopoly or dual monopoly for the last 15+ years... It's just the result of how the infrastructure was built and laid out. Before the internet, it was a monopoly for voice (dial up and regular phones) and a monopoly for cable.

Exceptions to that are when an entire city decides to install their own fiber network to provide to their citizen with low cost fiber or satellite.

I've been in a situation where DSL provider would not connect a new neighborhood to their fiber but it wasn't cost efficient (when fiber is available to an adjacent neighborhood) and thus resulting in Comcast controlling the price for high speed internet. In that situation, DSL could provide a max of 25MB/down for $30/month so when I called Comcast to reduce my bill, they said they'll gladly reduce to $30/month for 25MB/down. Whereas if both services were competitive, then Comcast will gladly reduce their prices to $50/month for 200MB/down since there is a real competitor.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,694   +6,629
What people need to realize that high speed internet (in the US) has been either a single monopoly or dual monopoly for the last 15+ years... It's just the result of how the infrastructure was built and laid out. Before the internet, it was a monopoly for voice (dial up and regular phones) and a monopoly for cable.
In a sense, true. According to my understanding, ISPs found a way to abuse 100+ year old telecom laws to cement monopolies in their favor. IMO, those ISPs should never have been allowed to get away with abusing those laws.
Exceptions to that are when an entire city decides to install their own fiber network to provide to their citizen with low cost fiber or satellite.
That is definitely one exception, however, others exist, too.
I've been in a situation where DSL provider would not connect a new neighborhood to their fiber but it wasn't cost efficient (when fiber is available to an adjacent neighborhood) and thus resulting in Comcast controlling the price for high speed internet. In that situation, DSL could provide a max of 25MB/down for $30/month so when I called Comcast to reduce my bill, they said they'll gladly reduce to $30/month for 25MB/down. Whereas if both services were competitive, then Comcast will gladly reduce their prices to $50/month for 200MB/down since there is a real competitor.
IMO, ISPs will remain scummy until the right people get fed up with being treated like scum and lobby their state law makers for relief.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 831   +1,445
Don't worry everyone!

For everyone else that doesn't qualify for this program, I can guarantee you'll see a price hike to make up the difference in what these companies are "losing out on".

I wish the stupidass datacap was removed from my Comcast service. What a load of horseshit it is.
 

mctommy

Posts: 417   +143
In a sense, true. According to my understanding, ISPs found a way to abuse 100+ year old telecom laws to cement monopolies in their favor. IMO, those ISPs should never have been allowed to get away with abusing those laws.

That is definitely one exception, however, others exist, too.

IMO, ISPs will remain scummy until the right people get fed up with being treated like scum and lobby their state law makers for relief.
What other option exists? Aside from @home solution from the wireless carriers (and they have their own pros and cons), I don't know of any other ones that would be comparable and "cheap".

I would be all for someone to come in and lay the infrastructure for a fiber network independent of Cable/DSL but that ain't cheap to dig up and install all of that.
 

goldman

Posts: 14   +8
There is nothing for free, specially coming from the government. Someone will have to pay it with taxes.
nah, no need to pay it with taxes, they can just keep printing money so that everyone pays it with inflation, lol
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,694   +6,629
I would be all for someone to come in and lay the infrastructure for a fiber network independent of Cable/DSL but that ain't cheap to dig up and install all of that.
That is exactly what is happening in my area, and when compared to the existing options, Spectrum, and Frontier DSL - to those close enough to the phone switch so that the DSL is reasonable, $50/mo for 500Mbps - symmetric FTTH is cheap. I was paying $70/mo for Spectrum's 100Mbps down and I forget what up, before the FTTH home service became available in my area.

Yes, I agree - laying infrastructure does come at an elevated cost, but, at least for this ISP in my area, they must think it will make a profit for them, otherwise, they would not be doing it.

So, community or municipality Internet service is not the only option. As I said above, I do not know what, exactly, changed in our area that made this ISP believe they could build out infrastructure and make a profit, but they must have believed that the conditions were at least good enough to bear the expense of laying that infrastructure. Otherwise, I would not have FTTH at a price that easily undercuts the competition in the area and makes this service the best value.

Just so that you know, we do have county, tax payer paid fiber that is 80% dark. It was laid primarily for the use of local government agencies. About a year or two ago, the local county government said it was going to investigate ways of opening up that "dark space" for use by the public, however, I've heard nothing since then.

And there have been US states that have made it impossible for municipalities to run their own ISP services for instance - https://www.techspot.com/news/68941-residents-rural-chattanooga-almost-had-10-gbps-internet.html In such areas, community solutions are not presently possible.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,149   +2,651
Remember when they broke up "MaBell" in the 80's? Well, it's taken around 40 years, for them to pretty much gobble up the phone/internet providers to the point there is sort of a duopoly. And you know these ISP's probably talk to each other to keep their prices way high.
Heck, even if you are a "non big" provider, you know your service is probably provided by, or connected to the big guys.
 

Duke9192

Posts: 57   +77
I have to agree based on the past performance of ISP with similar subsidies. IMO, this program will represent yet another government program that the ISPs will find a way to abuse without delivering on their promises.
I don't blame the isp. I blame the government for meddling in consumer goods and services by using tax payer dollars (or borrowing against our country's debt) for the purpose of buying votes. Oh wait, I forgot, sorry, for the purpose of making bills easier to pay for people who can't afford the things they want to buy because everyone should have everything that everyone else has because we were all born. None of this will disrupt the natural cause and effect forces that occur in business. Oh wait, it will.... When nothing makes sense... It's because the government is acting as the central bank, handing out money behind the scenes.
 

waclark

Posts: 347   +236
In a sense, true. According to my understanding, ISPs found a way to abuse 100+ year old telecom laws to cement monopolies in their favor. IMO, those ISPs should never have been allowed to get away with abusing those laws.

That is definitely one exception, however, others exist, too.

IMO, ISPs will remain scummy until the right people get fed up with being treated like scum and lobby their state law makers for relief.
Actually the ISPs didn't have to abuse any laws, the government set everything up from the get-go to limit the number of providers. And even today, the government prevents new investors from coming in and using existing poles and attachments. The cable companies took advantage of it, to be sure, but they didn't rig the game to begin with. Your local governing body did that and is still doing it today.