This week, the White House announced that AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum and 16 other providers will offer high-speed internet plans of at least 100 megabits per second “for no more than $30/month” to eligible low-income households – the same amount as the new government subsidy established by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed last year.
This announcement underscores the power of public and private partnerships in bridging the digital divide.
The IIJA’s $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a $30 per month discount for households that are at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (e.g., a qualifying family of four would earn $55,500 or less per year) or include a family member who receives federal benefit programs such as food stamps, Pell Grants, Medicaid or free or reduced-price school meals.
More than 11.5 million households across the country have already signed up for the benefit. Of these, only 2.2 million1 Texans have enrolled out of the 9.2 million2 estimated eligible Texans. Texans can check whether they qualify for discounted service at getinternet.gov, or by calling (877) 384-2575.
Approximately 7.4 million Texans do not have access to broadband internet, and roughly 2.5 million people still do not have access to the internet at all. So, the road ahead to close the digital divide remains challenging.
Combining the new mapping and planning authority of the state, along with federal funding and these public and private sector partnerships will help Texas come closer to addressing the digital divide.
1 Datapoint converts households into individuals using 2.60 people per household
2 Number of Texans below 200% of the federal poverty guideline.