Biden’s high-speed internet package will help low-income families

Thousands of low-income families in Palm Beach County stand to benefit from a program that will reduce the cost of high-speed Internet, according to Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss.

Weiss traveled to Washington, DC, last week to attend an event at the White House where President Joe Biden announced program details. Weiss said more than 90,000 homes in Palm Beach County currently lack high-speed Internet access.

The plan, a feature of the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year, would cost eligible households no more than $30 per month. Twenty internet service providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, have agreed to provide deeply discounted broadband service to low-income consumers, the White House announced Monday, dramatically expanding broadband access.

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Weiss has been a strong supporter of the measure. He helped shape the law through his involvement with the National Counties Association, which helped lead the White House invitation. Weiss also addressed the lack of internet access through the Florida Counties Association.

The 100-megabit-per-second service is fast enough for a family to work from home, finish homework, browse the web and stream movies and TV shows in high definition, the White House said. According to Weiss, current programs to help low-income families do not operate at the speed of 100 megabits.

Weiss said he repeatedly heard from county residents struggling to access the internet. The pandemic has emphasized the lack of accessibility, he said, noting that the program will help bridge “the digital divide in our community”.

Biden said “high-speed internet is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity.” He made the remarks when he announced the program at the White House Rose Garden.

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Who is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

Household assistance, Pell Grant tuition assistance, or free or reduced-price school meals – or if the household already qualifies for an internet service provider’s low-income services program.

Weiss said the cost of internet service has been a bigger barrier than network access. This has prevented families from going online to access telehealth services, participate in educational activities or enjoy entertainment. Educators say students often go to fast food restaurants or cafes to access the internet because there is no connectivity at home.

To see if you qualify for the program, call 1-877-384-2575 or go to getinternet.gov

Mike Diamond is a reporter for the Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. It covers county government and transportation. You can reach him at[email protected]. Help support local journalism. Subscribe today.