New program offers discount on internet

New program offers discount on internet

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The Biden administration, in bipartisan cooperation from congress, has created a program to offer free or low-cost internet connectivity to households that qualify. It is an effort to ensure income is not a barrier to connecting with the digital world, helping to provide access for work, school, healthcare, commerce, personal finance and all the information the internet has to offer.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and invests $14 billion in reaching families on the margin of internet access due to low income. The program is administered by the Federal Communications Commission.

The Affordable Connectivity Program brings a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. An up to $75 monthly discount is designated for those occupying tribal lands.

To further aid families with achieving full access to information technology, eligible households may receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a desktop computer, laptop or tablet device from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

The new program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

Applicants may qualify if they are already participants in a government program or meet certain income-level requirements. The FCC has secured participation from 20 internet service providers that will provide the actual service.

A quick check of availability in Tuscarawas County shows as many as seven service providers in the program ranging in speeds from reported 25 Mbps with HughesNet to 100 Mbps with Spectrum. Nationally, most of the nation’s major internet providers are program participants.

To qualify, one must meet one of three eligibility requirements:

—An annual income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

—You or a member of your household currently participates in either SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, SSI, FPHA, veterans pension and survivors benefit, free and reduced school lunch program, Federal Pell Grant, Lifeline or certain tribal assistance programs for Native Americans.

—The applicant meets participating service provider programs for low-income families.

Digital and printable applications are available at www.affordableconnectivity.gov, where you may choose one of three ways to qualify as outlined above. Applications also are accepted via mail.

After qualification, participants may choose the internet service provider from which they wish to purchase monthly service.

A similar qualification process helps buyers get a new laptop, desktop computer or tablet. There are 30 listed providers that also offer the discounted devices in Ohio, though none of those available in Tuscarawas County appear to offer such programs.

Community-wide programs also may be available. More information on wider offerings is at www.internetforall.gov.

The FCC claims to have rules in place to offer protection for residents by empowering consumers to choose the service plan that best meets their needs, ensuring consumers have access to supported broadband services regardless of their credit status, prohibiting providers from excluding consumers with past-due balances or prior debt from enrolling in the program, preventing consumers from being forced into more expensive or lower quality plans in order to receive the ACP, ensuring consumers are not liable for early termination fees, reducing the potential for bill shock or other financial harms, allowing ACP recipients to switch providers or broadband service offerings, and providing a dedicated FCC process for ACP complaints.

Check the above links for full information and applications.