A survey from Consumer Reports revealed that four out of five Americans agree that internet service is “as important as water or electricity.” When asked how often they used the internet, 82% of Americans responded that they’re online every single day. But unlike water, electricity, or even phone service, broadband internet service is not universally available.
Millions of Americans are being left behind because they simply can’t afford access. In fact, U.S. broadband service is among the most expensive in the world! This high cost forces many to choose between feeding their families and getting or staying connected.
Congress should commit to providing Americans with affordable, high-speed internet by offering a $50 per month subsidy to low-income families. While Congress created a permanent $30 broadband subsidy in the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act, that subsidy is $20 lower than the short-term $50 broadband subsidy included in the most recent COVID-19 relief package. Congress must create a consistent and reliable long-term subsidy at the levels it was at during the pandemic.
Americans are paying an average of $66-per-month for internet service, so the Lifeline program, which provides $9.25-per-month for broadband access for low-income Americans, simply cannot support the connections families need and the Affordable Connectivity Fund, which will provide $30 a month does not cover half of an average bill.
Congress can and should take several other steps to ensure that high-speed internet is accessible, including, but not limited to:
- providing funding for devices like computers and tablets;
- making broadband providers to offer an affordable “basic service” package;
- enforcing price transparency requirements, including fees and equipment rentals; and
- incentivizing competition in order to decrease prices long-term.
Tell Congress it’s time to #MakeBroadbandAffordable for everyone.