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Published: Jun 03, 2024 4 min read
Photo illustration of an internet router being used at home by a costumer
Money, Getty Images

More than a dozen internet service providers are now offering affordable internet plans to millions of low-income Americans as they lose access to a federal subsidy.

Through the end of 2024, 14 internet companies have agreed to offer high-speed broadband plans for $30 or less per month with no fees or data caps, the White House announced Friday.

The voluntary commitments from the telecom companies — which include major firms like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — are in response to the end of the now-defunct Affordable Connectivity Program, an initiative that ran out of funding last week.

Launched by the Federal Communications Commission in December 2021, the ACP provided monthly discounts of $30 to $75 to over 23 million low-income households across the U.S. When it was established, many internet providers worked with the Biden administration to accept ACP benefits, crafting $30-per-month internet plans that essentially made internet free for millions of Americans.

Now that the ACP coffers have run dry, June marks the first month that all enrollees will receive an internet bill without the federal discount.

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Internet plans for $30 a month — or less

With no new funding confirmed for the ACP, these internet service providers are stepping in to cushion the financial blow for low-income households looking to stay connected. Companies offering cheap internet plans include:

The discounted plans may not be available to every previous ACP recipient. Eligibility varies by location, household income and other factors.

Through Comcast (aka Xfinity), for example, some folks may qualify for a 10-megabits-per-second internet plan for $9.99 per month, with no credit check or cancellation fees, or a 100-Mbps plan for $29.99 per month. Similarly, AT&T offers a $29.99-per-month plan that advertises speeds up to 100 Mbps.

In some cases, the company will allow the discounted plans to be combined with benefits from Lifeline, a separate FCC-run benefit that discounts internet plans by up to $9.25 per month.

To sign up, select a company from the list above and check the price and eligibility details. Household income and receipt of a government benefit such as SNAP (aka food stamps) or Medicaid may need to be verified.

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Could the Affordable Connectivity Program come back?

It is possible that the ACP subsidy could return. In the Friday announcement from the White House, President Joe Biden renewed his call on Congress for $6 billion to fund the program.

Some lawmakers have already asked for even more than that. The program is popular among Democrats and Republicans alike. In January, a bill to infuse the ACP with $7 billion was introduced in both chambers of Congress with broad bipartisan support. However, the proposal has stalled since then.

In the meantime, folks have options to stay connected. If those who were enrolled in the ACP can’t afford their internet bill without the subsidy — or one of the discounted plans above — internet providers aren’t allowed to immediately disconnect the household. ACP protections keep homes online for up to 90 days past the missed bill’s due date.

Likewise, providers can’t charge cancellation fees to those who decide to end or change their internet plan early now that the subsidy has run out.

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