President Joe Biden’s administration is kicking off visits across the United States as part of “a digital equity campaign” aimed at increasing enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers eligible households a monthly discount on internet bills.
For eligible households, the program offers up to a $30 monthly discount for internet bills (up to $75 monthly for those on qualifying tribal lands), as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 on a laptop, computer, or tablet.
“Because many of these folks have plans that cost $30 or less every month, today, millions of Americans get their high-speed internet absolutely free,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a video message.
More than 18.5 million households have enrolled in the program since it came into effect as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in November 2021, according to a fact sheet released by the White House on Wednesday.
The Biden administration has focused on closing the so-called “digital divide” and expanding internet access, as millions of Americans continue to lack high-speed internet access. The White House noted in February that the divide is “particularly notable in communities of color, rural communities, and among older Americans.”
However, the White House noted, about half of the remaining qualified Americans are unaware of the program. The White House previously estimated that as many as 48 million households nationwide could be eligible.
The newly launched campaign, dubbed Online for All, is helmed by the Department of Education (DOE) and Civic Nation, a nonprofit that focuses on supporting “high-impact, national organizing and education initiatives.”
In a tweet Wednesday, the group highlighted the positive impacts the program has had on enrolled Americans.
The campaign involves awareness efforts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), DOE, and private companies.
The White House said Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten will send a message about the program to school principals and vice principals nationwide, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will send a letter about to the program to every public housing authority to raise awareness among HUD-assisted families, and the FCC is launching a paid ad campaign and media tour.
Other efforts include senior adviser Steve Benjamin making an appearance at an AARP event to reach older Americans who may be eligible, DOE Secretary Miguel Cardona headlining a virtual educators’ event to help teachers connect students to the resources offered in the program, and companies including Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T hosting outreach events.