By Stacey M. Brown, NNPA Newswire’s Chief National Correspondent
After the White House announced a plan to expand access to affordable high-speed Internet to millions of Americans, especially low-income families, it didn’t take long for Comcast to ensure its customers benefit.
The Affordable Connection Program (ACP), created under the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, allowed Comcast to offer free, discounted Internet service to customers in the Beltway area—Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and parts of Delaware, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
The program provides $30 per month to cover the cost of internet or mobile phone service for eligible low-income families.
Maryland has agreed to provide an additional $15 per month.
“The impact means for eligible families, there is no reason for anyone to pay for internet service,” said Misty Allen, Vice President of Government Affairs for Comcast’s Beltway District.
“In Baltimore, eligible families can get $30 through the federal government, and Maryland offers an additional $15, up to $45 a month,” Allen noted.
“So, when you talk about impact, we know there are three main barriers to online subscription. The first is convenience, where people ask, ‘Why do I need internet when I have a phone?’”
“Do I have the skills? Maybe I don’t have a computer. The third is affordability. This removes affordability because the internet can be very effective for Maryland residents.”
According to a release from Comcast, eligible customers can also apply ACP credits to any level of Xfinity Internet, including Internet Essentials or Xfinity Mobile.
Comcast and its Beltway area community partners—including the Montgomery Housing Partnership, The Green Beret Project, and The Senior Zone—host ACP outreach events throughout the summer where residents can learn about eligibility, benefits, and how to register.
ACP should help families of color as government officials have presented statistics showing that Latinos are 15% less likely to have high-speed internet than their white peers, while black families are 9% less likely.
In addition, about 35% of the population of tribal lands lack access to broadband services.
The Biden-Harris administration has estimated that 48 million families qualify for the ACP program, which represents about 40% of all families in the United States.
Eligible families earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level or have an individual receiving other state benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income.
“The success of the program is very much dependent on people realizing that it is available,” Allen said.
“We email our clients, run TV ads, and do everything we can as service providers, but we work with community leaders, elected officials, and nonprofits.
“We pass this information on to them and ask them to help us spread the word. We work with Y’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities in Baltimore, Fight Back, and the Digital Equality Alliance in Baltimore has a hotline to help people who call find resources.”
“We’re working on the social fabric of these communities to help spread the word because these are the people who do it every day to help their communities.”
For more information or to enroll in the ACP program, visit www.Xfinity.com/ACP.
Comcast Pushing Beyond, which provides free internet to millions of families, debuted on BlackPressUSA.
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