BACKGROUNDER: Vice President Harris Marks Another Major Milestone in Administration’s Effort to Cut Costs for American Families

VP announces that since launching GetInternet.gov in May, administration has signed up 1 million new homes to save hundreds of dollars a year on internet service

High-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury. Yet too many families are going without high-speed internet because of the cost or having to cut back on other essentials to meet their monthly internet service payments. That’s why President Biden and Vice President Harris worked with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to include the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which provides $65 billion to expand the Internet for All – to ensure that every American has access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet.

The ACP, administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), offers eligible households up to $30/month (or $75/month on tribal lands) off Internet bills, plus a one-time $100 rebate on a connected device. To further reduce costs, in May, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced the commitment of internet service providers across the country to offer broadband plans fully covered by the CPA, which means that millions of working families can now get high-speed internet without paying a penny. They simultaneously launched GetInternet.gov—a one-stop-shop to check eligibility and register.

Today in North Carolina, Vice President Harris announces that, Thanks to the administration’s “all-of-government” sign-up campaign, 1 million new households signed up to save on home broadband through the CPA.
The efforts of the Administration have made it possible to increase the ACP enrollment rate by approximately 35%.

To build on this success, the Vice President today called on the nation’s governors to join the administration’s enrollment drive, sending them letters outlining key actions they can take to boost registrations in their states. For example, today the state of North Carolina pledged to email 5 million households to let them know they can lower their internet bill by visiting GetInternet.gov to verify eligibility and register.

BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION’S “ALL OF GOVERNMENT” REGISTRATION CAMPAIGN

Partnership with state and local governments: Today’s call to action from the Vice President builds on the administration’s existing successful partnerships with state and local governments to spread the word. For instance:

  • Michigan texted approximately 1.3 million potentially eligible Michiganders and gained 25,000 new ACP enrollees.
  • Albemarle County, Virginia now includes a “PS” on GetInternet.gov in every client communication by county social workers.
  • Massachusetts recently texted more than one million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients about GetInternet.gov and saw its rate of registrations double within five days of the SMS.
  • The city of Mesa, Arizona, reports that voters who hear about the CPA are extremely interested. Mesa’s text messages to residents about GetInternet.gov have a 10% click-through rate, compared to a typical 1-5% rate for Mesa’s other government outreach activities.
  • New York City sent backpack flyers to the ACP House through 1,700 principals to reach approximately 1 million children who attend schools eligible for the Free and Discounted School Lunch Community, and will do Advertising for GetInternet.gov at bus stops in ZIP codes with a high number of households likely to be CPA eligible.

Leveraging All Federal Government: In addition to working with state and local partners, the Administration is using all the tools in its toolkit to spread the word, including communicating directly with households who are automatically eligible for CPA due to their participation in other federal government programs. For instance:

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) has sent an email to all 1.7 million Supplemental Security Income recipients who have a “my social security” account informing them that they are eligible for CPA. SSA plans to send a second email to recipients this summer. The agency also broadcasts public service announcements on Social Security Television, broadcast to more than 1,200 local Social Security offices nationwide.
  • This summer, the Department of Education will email over 6 million CPA-eligible Pell Grant recipients. It will also lead a back-to-school campaign with information about the CPA.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has sent information to its 12 million VetResources email subscribers and 120 Veterans Engagement Community Councils as recipients of Veterans’ Pension and Survivor Benefits are eligible for the ACP. This summer, the Veterans Benefits Administration will also send a notification letter and flyer directly to the 380,000 veterans and survivors currently receiving retirement benefits.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has emailed more than 3,000 public housing authorities information about CPA to share with their more than 3 million families who receive federal public housing assistance and are eligible , and is currently doing a follow-up engagement.
  • The Home Office’s Trust Fund Administration Office contacted over 400,000 beneficiaries with a direct mailing to inform them of the CPA. The Department has also trained more than 200 call center and field agents who work in the Office of Trust Fund Administration to disseminate information and answer questions about eligibility and how to apply for the PCA.
  • Broadband infrastructure grant programs operated by the Treasury Department, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce all require grant recipients to participate in the CPA, which helps ensure that federal funds are used to deploy truly affordable networks.

Working with digital advocates and navigators: The administration is also working with trusted community leaders to spread the word and enroll eligible households. For instance:

  • The FCC has registered over 40,000 individuals and organizations as ACP Outreach Partners. To build on these efforts, the FCC is establishing a new grant program to enable partners to engage their communities and has earmarked up to $100 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding for conduct ACP outreach efforts, including consumer research, focus groups, paid media campaigns, and grants to outreach partners over the next five years.
  • The administration partnered with civil rights groups to launch a week of action in June, during which the leadership conference and partner civil rights organizations reached out to communities to encourage households to register with the ACP.
  • Through administration outreach, United Way will share information about the CPA in communications reaching at least 15,000 people per month.
  • The administration also worked with Propel, a fintech platform used by SNAP recipients that reaches more than 5 million low-income households. Propel is running an ACP promotion campaign until July.

THE AFFORDABLE CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM (ACP)

The ACP is a key element of the administration internet for all initiative and the largest Internet accessibility program in the history of our country. Experts believe that 48 million households– nearly 40% of households in the country – are eligible for CPA either because their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or because a member of the household meets one of the others criteria below:

  • Participate in one of the following programs:
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
    • Medical help
    • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    • Veterans pension and survivors benefits
    • Free and Discounted School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
    • Federal Pell Grant (received in current year)
    • safety rope
    • Some Tribal Assistance programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Head Start (only households meeting the income qualification standard), Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), and the food distribution program on Indian reservations
  • Meets the eligibility requirements of a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income Internet program.

To date, more than 1,300 Internet service providers participate in the program and approximately 13 million households have registered to benefit from the ACP.

Households can check their CPA eligibility, enroll and find fully covered plans by visiting GetInternet.gov. They can also find out more by calling (877) 384-2575.

CPA sign-up drive just part of Biden-Harris administration’s agenda Internet for All Initiative to ensure that every American has access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet. The bipartisan Infrastructure Act calls for a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet access, in addition to billions in funding for affordable high-speed internet provided by the US bailout that is currently rolling out across the country .

About Christopher Easley

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