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White House announces broadening broadband benefit

Internet providers, many of which have monopoly control in WNY, agreed to provide a $30 service for low-income households, which will be free with ACP benefit.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The Biden administration announced Monday that 20 different internet service providers will now offer a $30/month service plan of at least 100Mbps for low-income households.  

This service, coupled with the $30/month benefit offered by the American Connectivity Program, could provide free internet service for millions of households.  

In an address at the White House Rose Garden, Vice President Kamala Harris said 40 million American households are currently eligible for the ACP. 

"There are seniors who have to take their telemedicine visits in the local library without the privacy that they want and are due," the Vice President said. "These are parents who cannot afford to work remotely and small business owners who cannot sell their products online. 

Here in New York, 812,455 households are currently enrolled in the program.

The ACP we developed after the passage of the infrastructure bill that passed Congress in 2021 and was put into effect in January 2022. 

Looking closer at the ACP data provided by the FCC, household enrollment varies across the 8 counties of WNY:

  • Allegany - 1,506
  • Cattaraugus - 3,022
  • Chautauqua - 7,680
  • Erie - 51,092
  • Genesee - 1,809
  • Niagara - 10,775
  • Orleans - 1,563
  • Wyoming -  967

Locally, Spectrum and Verizon are 2 of the 20 providers participating in the program. Spectrum has a monopoly service in many areas of WNY, with Verizon FIOS only in select suburban areas and often not entire communities.

"Over the last few months, my administration has worked closely with internet providers," President Biden said in the Rose Garden. "This is a case where big business stepped up urging them to cut their prices and raise their speeds."

Today's announcement didn't address how lack of competition has driven up internet costs over the last two decades in markets like Western New York.  

2 On Your Side has reached out to representatives from Charter and Verizon for comment but has not yet heard back.