Biden administration launches program to make high-speed internet free for millions of low-income families
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - High-speed internet service could become free for millions of low-income families.
President Biden announced his administration secured a commitment from 20 internet providers to cut prices for qualifying customers.
The plan, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will reduce internet costs for millions of Americans by up to $30. Families that qualify can get a credit towards their monthly bill, which could mean some families will pay nothing.
The importance of internet access became even more apparent during the pandemic. Scotlandville High School student Aaliyah Martin knows that all too well.
“I would get there around 6:30 so I could sit in the cafeteria and at least try to get something done,” Martin said.
The soon-to-be graduating senior and a few of her classmates would get to school hours before class started just to finish their homework because they did not have internet at home.
To make things worse, Martin’s mom passed away in the middle of the semester a few months ago.
That forced her to move in with her aunt in Woodville, Miss., who did not have internet either.
“I had already missed a week because of COVID, and then I had to take another week off for the funeral, and then I was missing some days because I couldn’t focus on school,” Martin said.
Sen. Troy Carter said the pandemic showed us just how important that service is.
“A parent should not have to pull in a parking lot of a McDonalds to bootleg internet service so they can do their homework, or so they can do research for a paper or project that they need. They should be able to do it from the comfort of their home,” Carter said. “This is a necessity like water and other utilities. It’s not a luxury anymore.”
This was made possible thanks to the commitment of more than a dozen internet providers, including AT&T, Comcast, and Cox.
“I think that speaks volumes to how integral the internet is to everyday life,” Tracy Wirtz said.
Wirtz is the Louisiana public and media relations manager for Cox Communications.
She said Cox has already invested more than $400 million over the last decade to bride the digital gap. She emphasized this new plan continues that mission.
“Cox has been responding to that digital divide. We knew it existed and we knew that’s what we needed to get,” Wirtz said.
As for Martin, the senior moved back to Baton Rouge and is on track to graduate in a few weeks. She plans to attend either Southern University or Texas Southern University.
“I had faith in myself, so I just did what I had to do,” Martin said.
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