Biden Internet Announcement

President Biden and 20 internet service provides agreed on a plan to essentially offer low-income communities free internet access.

Jonathan Good
Leans Left
Stephen Webber
Leans Right

Free Internet Agreement

White House Event. At a White House ceremony on Monday, President Biden announced an agreement with 20 internet service providers to offer high-speed internet plans to low-income families for $30 a month. Under existing federal subsidies, that would essentially make the service free for qualifying families. These 20 companies cover more than 80% of the U.S. population, including roughly half of those living in rural areas.

Pandemic Revelation. Throughout Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, he frequently talked about the necessity of broadband service. The Covid-19 pandemic brought the issue to the forefront as millions of Americans needed the internet to work or attend school remotely. Biden often highlighted cases of parents driving to fast-food parking lots so their children could do schoolwork on the restaurant Wi-Fi, something he referenced again during Monday’s event. 

Biden Remarks. In his address, Biden said that “High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity.” He hailed the plan as a case where “big business stepped up.” Biden also claimed the agreement highlights his administration’s fight against surging inflation as he continues to get negative marks on his handling of it. The President said this move will “give millions of families a little more breathing room to help them pay their bills.”

Affordable Connectivity Program

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Last year, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Under this law, Congress allocated $65 billion to connect Americans to broadband internet. While most of that money went to expanding infrastructure, Congress reserved $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides $30 monthly subsidies for low-income households to buy internet service plans. 

Who Qualifies? Any American household with an income under 200% of the federal poverty level — roughly $55,000 annually for a family of four — is automatically eligible for the ACP. Additionally, anyone who already receives federal assistance — like SNAP benefits or Medicaid — qualifies. Under those requirements, the White House says nearly 40% of American households are eligible for the ACP.

Low Enrollment. According to administration officials, of the 48 million households that qualify for the ACP, a mere 11.5 million have signed up. Many argue that those who need the program the most are hardest to reach because they do not have internet access. The White House is pushing for qualified families to enroll by reaching out to eligible households through federal agencies and launching a website — GetInternet.gov.

Digital Divide

Internet Inequality. Policymakers and experts frequently refer to the internet access disparities between low-income and wealthier families as the “digital divide.” While the federal government has spent billions every year to connect Americans to broadband, the Federal Communications Commission says millions of Americans still do not have access. Many analysts criticize internet service providers for “digital redlining,” when companies intentionally leave low-income customers on slower broadband infrastructure while upgrading it for wealthier communities.

Left Narrative

Thanks to the Biden administration, millions more Americans can now participate in the digital economy. For decades, communities of color and low-income communities have faced harsh digital inequalities, unable to advance in a society that is increasingly dependent on the internet. This historic partnership will equip these marginalized groups with the tools they need to thrive. We must continue to encourage enrollment in the ACP and work to expand broadband infrastructure until all Americans have access to affordable, high-speed internet.

Left-Lean Narrative

Right-Lean Narrative

Right Narrative

The Biden administration has signed a bipartisan bill that has been in the works for quite a while. In a rare move by the Biden administration, this bill will help working-class families in rural communities. This move will propagate access to broadband across the nation.

Questions & Answers

Reading Comprehension

Have your students take a reading comprehension quiz to see how well they understood the article and different opinions.

Launch Activity

Discussion Questions

  1. How might the Biden administration improve access to the internet in areas these internet service providers do not cover?
  2. Are public-private partnerships like this an effective way for the administration to fight inflation? Why or why not?
  3. Should the federal government subsidize internet plans for low-income families? Explain your position.
  4. How might the administration reach out to Americans eligible for the ACP that do not already have internet access?
  5. How could the “digital divide” harm low-income communities?

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Accompanying Content

min
The White House
FACT SHEET: President Biden and Vice President Harris Reduce High-Speed Internet Costs for Millions of Americans

This White House press release explains the details of the recent agreement to provide low-income communities with low-cost, high-speed internet plans. It also covers the administration’s reasoning for the program.

Press Release
May 9, 2022
Left
Bias
min
NAACP
NAACP Statement on President Biden’s Plan to Lower Internet Costs

The NAACP praises the Biden administration’s partnership with internet service providers to lower internet costs for low-income communities.

Press Release
May 9, 2022
Leans Left
Bias
min
Fox News
Biden says high-speed internet access is ‘not a luxury’ but a ‘necessity’ as admin rolls out new program

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday announced a deal with more than a dozen U.S. internet service providers to give high-speed internet to Americans living in low-income areas, stressing that access is “not a luxury” but a “necessity.”

Article
May 9, 2022
Right
Bias
2
min
Associated Press
Biden launches discounted internet service program

President Biden announces the public-private partnership to provide low-income communities with high-speed internet access. He explains his reasoning for the program.

Video
May 9, 2022
Left
Bias

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