Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an event at the White House Monday announcing that more than 10 million households are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- More than 10 million U.S. homes have enrolled in a program to make broadband Internet access affordable for low-income Americans, the Biden administration announced Monday.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and senior adviser Mitch Landrieu touted the achievements of the Affordable Connectivity Program at a White House event.
"In the 21st century, high-speed Internet is a necessity -- not a luxury, a necessity," Harris said. "Our world has moved online, and that is why from day one [President Joe Biden] and I have fought to make it easier for everyone to access and afford high-speed Internet."
The $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program was created as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Biden signed last November.
The program provides monthly broadband Internet discounts of up to $30 for households that are at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. It also provides low-income homes a one-time $100 discount to buy a computer or tablet. The plan says households on tribal lands can receive monthly Internet discounts up to $75.
The achievement of 10 million users was spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris said.
"Young people used the Internet to access digital textbooks, attend virtual classes and collaborate on science projects, all from their kitchen table," she said. "Parents used the Internet to buy groceries, paper towels and other daily essentials. The Internet allows folks to take care of their children, and get their essential needs accomplished."
Businesses, workers, entertainment providers, travelers and many others use high-speed Internet as an essential part of their lives, and yet, she said, 42 million people in the United States do not have access to it.
The most common reason is its high cost.
"Every person in our nation, no matter how much they earn, should have access to high-speed Internet," Harris declared.
"Quality Internet service is necessary for Americans to do their jobs," added Landrieu, Biden's coordinator responsible for implementing the bipartisan infrastructure law.
Although "laying down hardware" for broadband Internet is an important task, it can only be "transformational" if it's affordable for users, he said.
"That's why I'm especially excited about today's announcement," Landrieu added.
Americans can check the Affordable Connectivity Program website to see if they're eligible and apply for discounted Internet service.