Free Internet? How a New Law Could Reduce Costs to Zero

The Affordable Connectivity Program cuts internet costs for millions of Americans. New deals will let some get internet access for free.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Katie Teague
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You could be eligible to save money on your home internet bill.

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The White House on May 9 announced the expansion of the Affordable Connectivity Program, with the launch of a new website and agreements with internet service providers that could cut internet costs to zero for some Americans.

Created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the ACP gives eligible households up to $30 per month off their internet bills, as well as discounts on computers or tablets from participating retailers. ACP eligible households who live on Tribal lands can receive up to $75 per month. The program aims to help families who either can't afford to pay for internet access or who have to cut back on other essentials to budget for the service.

The Biden administration's new agreements with 20 leading internet providers -- including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon -- ensure that they provide ACP eligible households with high-speed internet service (at least 100 Mbps download speed) for no more than $30 per month. A $30 monthly grant from the ACP means some qualifying Americans could receive free internet access.

We'll tell you how to find out if you're eligible for ACP and how to sign up. For more, here's how to save money on your gas, electric and water bills.

Find out if you're eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program

On May 9, the White House launched GetInternet.gov, a website to help Americans determine their eligibility and apply for the ACP.

There are three ways you can qualify for the program (these don't all have to be true, just any one of the following): 

1. Your income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For instance, if your household size is three, your income must be at or lower than $46,060. If you're the only person in your household, your income must be no more than $27,180.

2. You or someone in your household participates in one of the following programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program
  • Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)
  • Lifeline
  • Certain Tribal assistance programs

3. You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider's existing low-income internet program.

Small blue piggy bank with a grave expression

If you're eligible, sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How to sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program

If you qualify for the program, here's how to sign up:

1. Visit the White House's Get Internet webpage.

2. Select how you'd like to qualify. Choose either "Qualify through a government assistance program" or "Qualify using your household income." 

3. Answer the questions based on your above selection and click Apply Now.

4. You'll be rerouted to a Federal Communications Commission webpage where you'll need to fill in your personal information, including your name, date of birth, a form of identification and home address. Click Next and follow the instructions.

Once your application has been approved, move on to the final step below.

Call a participating internet service provider

After your application has been approved, your next step is to call a participating ISP, let it know you applied for the ACP and choose an internet plan. Your approved ACP benefit will be applied to the plan you select. 

AT&T logo on a phone

AT&T is among the many participating internet providers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Participating internet providers with new agreements

The following ISPs have made agreements with the White House to provide high-speed internet access to ACP-eligible households for no more than $30 a month.

If you don't see your provider on the list, you may still be able to receive money back from ACP. Use the Companies Near Me tool to search more than 1,300 ISPs that offer the ACP service. 

  • Allo Communications
  • AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom)
  • Altice (Optimum and Suddenlink)
  • Astound
  • AT&T
  • Breezeline
  • Comcast
  • Comporium
  • Cox Communications
  • Frontier
  • IdeaTek
  • Jackson Energy Authority
  • Mediacom
  • MLGC
  • Spectrum (Charter Communications)
  • Starry
  • Verizon (Fios only)
  • Vermont Telephone Company
  • Vexus Fiber
  • Wow! Internet, Cable and TV

For more, here are 10 energy-saving tips for renters looking to lower utility bills.