HOUSTON - Families struggling to make ends meet can now get help paying for home internet service. The White House reports that 42 million Americans don't have access to high-speed home internet.
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The White House reports that 42 million Americans don't have access to high-speed home internet. That can limit access to jobs, education, and vital information. Now families who qualify can get home internet at a deep discount, and in some cases, for free.
"There were many times I was like, do I pay the bill or do I buy food?" said mother of two, Jamila Byrd.
Byrd says she had to give up paying for home internet service in order to keep food on the table.
"It was chaotic," said Byrd. "We had to go to the library just to have internet access. Or we had to go to family and friends' houses just for the kids to complete their assignments."
But now she and her children have home high-speed internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
"They can be in their own room and be comfortable doing their assignmentst," said Byrd. "I can do my work assignments, having access to the internet."
The ACP is a Federal Communications Commission program, replacing that Emergency Broadband Benefit Program during the pandemic, and is aimed at closing the digital divide.
"We saw the disparities between who had access and who did not when the pandemic hit," said Misha McClure with internet provider Comcast. "And it’s really going to be a game-changer for those who want to get connected for school, work, healthcare and more."
Households can receive up to $30 a month off their internet service, up to $75 for households on tribal land, plus a one-time $100 discount for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.
To qualify, households must have income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, which is 46,060 for a family of three, and receive other government assistance, such as SNAP or Medicaid benefits.
The credit can be used with a number of internet providers. Some, like Comcast's ACP program, offer programs that can essentially make it free.
"We’ve recently launched a new Xfinity offering, Internet Essential Plus, that is one hundred Mbps download speed at $29.95 a month," said McClure. "That is enough bandwidth to power an entire household with many connected devices."
Byrd says having home internet is helping her kids do better in school.
"They can look up more things and do more research because they have more time at home," she said.
If you don't qualify for ACP, several providers offer low cost services. Verizon has just launched its new 5G home internet service in the Houston area at $25 per month.