back to article Biden deal with ISPs: Low to no cost internet for 40% of US

The Biden White House has put forward a plan that could see 40 percent of households in the United States getting subsidized high-speed internet, with some having service free of charge. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was created as part of the recently passed infrastructure law, and will reimburse bills from …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Now Biden's just got to figure out how to get them the devices to use it.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    while Spectrum doubled the speed of its $30 a month plan from 50Mbps to 100Mbps, the minimum speed which the ACP classifies as high-speed internet.

    Do you really think the users will see their real-world speed doubled?

    We need (globally) an end to the "up to" crap as acceptable, so at least folks get to see their real-world performance statistics without running (probably gamed) speed tests and if the ISP is delivering on claimed performance,

    I noticed by VM connection was really slow on one app that was reporting the download speed, but when I went to run a speedtest on my phone (wifi to same router) miraculously the overall speed increased!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but that's due to the speed of the remote server or Speedtest traffic being prioritised.

      Find another speed test that isn't Speedtest and then see.

      My ISP provides a public facing Speedtest server, but it's behind a 100mb connection, which makes testing my 750mb connection rather pointless. I usually have to try a few different servers before I can find one that can keep up.

      With regards to download speeds in general though, Visual Studio update is the only service that I've seen that can actually serve data fast enough to max out my connection. Most others are embarrassingly slow by comparison.

      1. Mike 16

        Find another speed test?

        Maybe the one Comcast (used to?) run right on the head-end? Right before your xMb of traffic was funneled along with a couple dozen other users and stuffed into a 5xMB backhaul.

        That was around the same time they wedged their own DNS servers with "helpful" substitution of friendly sites for any that you mistyped. I'm sure thay don't do hat sort of thing anymore, right? I mean, once you become Xfinity, you must have pledged not to be a jerk.

    2. PRR Silver badge

      > Do you really think the users will see their real-world speed doubled?

      FWIW, last week Spectrum emailed(!) me to say they were doubling my speed, 100Mbps to 200Mbps, just because they were so wonderful.

      I had noticed only because I had been running speed tests the week before, because service had degraded(!). I now think they were fumbling to loosen the throttle in advance of this announcement. When the chaos settled, I was indeed showing 213Mbps on their suggested test sites, after midnight. On real-world surfing, no real change (and NO change in our horrible latency). Few interesting servers deliver huge images at close to 100Mbps, and I'm not all that impatient.

      I figured they wanted to keep me at the >$50 rate so I did not hop to the $30 plan. Turns out they don't offer the $30 plan until you show poverty.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure about VM, but all the DSL providers "hit the internet" in telehouse, London.

      Therefore, always choose a London provider, despite speedtest giving you something geographically closer.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    This is a good idea.

    Subsidise the internet for the poor American people so they can google if they have cancer or not, as they're not able to afford to see a doctor in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure that the GQP will oppose this

      like they oppose everything apart from tax cuts for the 1%'ers.

      Biden could forgive all or part of the federal student loan debt by signing an executive order.

      The GQP are putting forward a bill that would block that.

      Why anyone would vote for Trump/MAGA/Q is beyond me. Some of my Republican friends in the US are starting to think that the current GQP is too far gone and are thinking of voting Dem in November.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm sure that the GQP will oppose this

        Get rid of Manchen and Sinema too!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American Internet speeds go from worse than third-world...

    And at a stroke, US Internet speeds go from worse than third world to still worse than third world. <face palm>

    (It's made me realize that it's not Musk's fault that astronomers can't see the stars without some satellite getting in the picture - it's Verizon and AT&T.)

    1. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: American Internet speeds go from worse than third-world...

      The rural America Internet problem is of the government's making.

      1) Per the FCC's rules, ISPs get to claim the highest bandwidth available in the area. So if the person next door to the Telco's DSL box gets 12mb, they get to claim that for the entire area.

      2) The FCC's rules put bandwidth in tiers, 10-25mb being one of them. Now if you live 15k wire feet from the Telco's DSL box and struggle to get past 1.5mb, the Telco gets to claim you as a "25mb customer" - because the guy next to the box put you in that tier.

      3) Like-for-like requirement. If 60 years ago copper phone lines were buried in the ground with trencher and a couple guys, the government requires any replacement lines - such as fiber optic - also be buried in the ground. Telco's are not allowed to string the fiber up on poles. The problem is in 2022 they cannot simply dig a hole in the ground without a zillion permits & environmental studies.

      It is cost prohibitive to run rural fiber. Not because the Telco's don't want to. Because the government has made it that way. This is why the Telco's want government subsidies to update their rural infrastructure - to offset the government imposed expenses.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did Biden fall off the turnip truck?

    From what it sounds like not only are bills going to go up for the rest of us, but since the bills are apparently just a percentage discount from an uncapped rate, AT&T can just crank that rate up till people on the subsidized plan are paying just as much as they did before, plus everyone else paying a chunk into it for the "subsidy" which is pretty much just more profit for the ISP/Carrier.

    The speed boost isn't nothing, but since it will only impact low income customers in places where the network can already handle it, it won't do much to solve the broadband dark zones across the country.

    This is like the dolts here trying to cut the gas taxes, when the oil companies will just crank the price up an pocket the difference.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Did Biden fall off the turnip truck?

      No, Biden didn't fall off any turnip truck.

      This is funneling more taxpayer's money into the coffers of vastly profitable corporations. Also known as business as usual.

      If Biden wanted to give Americans cheap fast Internet access he would break up the monopolies that dominate the industry almost everywhere.

      All the complaints I am reading from Americans in the comments here don't exist where I live, because if my ISP pulled any of those sorts of tricks, I'd dump them and they know I would.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: Did Biden fall off the turnip truck?

        "This is funneling more taxpayer's money into the coffers of vastly profitable corporations."

        Thanks, I was starting to worry I was the only one here who felt that way. The little piglets just can't resist the swollen teats of Momma Pig...

      2. Sandstone

        Re: Did Biden fall off the turnip truck?

        Waiting for Atlas to shrug.

  6. vogon00

    'to 100Mbps, the minimum speed which the ACP classifies as high-speed internet.'

    Downstream speeds ain't everything. Upstream is just as important, especially for TCP sessions from a multi-user-household. I for one have always hated the UK practise of advertising things as 'up to 'N@Mb', but also that they don't declare the projected Upstream speed side of the connection. Sure, you can have 100MBit Down...provided you don't mind sharing the available 128KBit Up between you?

    Here in the UK, I used to have a rural-ish DSL with 12MBit down and ~1MBit up on average...and that was with a sensible noise margin of about 6db. If it rained or the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, the upstream speed suffered first. Never having been a cable customer/DOCSIS user, I can't comment on likely upstream performance with that.

    IMO, delivering sensible/usable up/down speeds is gonna be a hard task, especially without full fibre/FTTP, and especially in the US with it's generally lower population density and larger distances to cover.

  7. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker


    First: "Spectrum doubled the speed of its $30 a month plan from 50Mbps to 100Mbps, the minimum speed which the ACP classifies as high-speed internet." I'm on AT&T (sadly, not fiber) and I pay $42 for 25 Mbps down (5 up), and the price would be higher if I also didn't have their "TV" bundle. Talk about a deal (if you qualify)!

    Second: Sure, $30 sounds nice, but I betcha' the equipment rental/lease will jack it up. It's a moot point since I Shirley don't qualify, so I get r@ped on my current plan instead with no hope to upgrade without selling my firstborn. I'm glad for all those who can get this, but I hate being the utilities'/banks' cash cow just because I have a decent-paying career.

    Third: "The White House said 100Mbps is 'fast enough for a typical family of four to work from home, do schoolwork, browse the web, and stream high-definition shows and movies.'" We already do all that with 25 for a family of five. Three kids doing virtual school, me WFH with two laptops/VPNs*, plus the missus consuming whatever she likes. One hundred (100) is MORE than "fast enough"! (*Note: When I do have issues, it's usually the customer's VPN to blame, so I'm not the only one affected.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What.

      On this side of the pond, 30$ does not sound nice, rather it sounds "average".

      There is some variabilty between European countries, but citing 3/4 I am more familiar with:

      In the first, you can get fiber for less than 30$/month (mostly in cities above 100k inhabitants, there are at least 3 companies with similar offerings). In areas with no cabling, chances are there is at least one company, two if you are lucky, that provide FWA coveraga with 25Mbps for 20$/month. There is quite a bit of LTE/5G options for less than 20$/month with limited data. It is also easy to find mobile plans for less than 15$ and a 100GB data cap, so tethering is an option if money is tight (done that, very doable if you don't need 4k or if Windows does not sneek humongous updates on you).

      Changing state you pay 30$ for the cheapest tier, which is 100Mbps down/25Mbps up. Another company provides 30Mbps up/5Mbps down for 25$/month. In yet another country you get a similar offering (also same companies to a large extent) but everything costs roughly 10$ less... go figure...

      Yet another country you can get fiber with symmetri 500Mbps for less than 25$/month, or if you are not so lucky DSL for the same price... but with the Telco's TV offering included (and there was much rejoicing).

      All in all, out of personal experience and hearsay, speeds are also relatively accurate. Something that could not be said 15 years ago, but things have been steadily improving.

      What I am trying to point out is that whenever some internet (or mobile for that matter)-related news come from the US, it really looks like a criminal associaiton between the federal government and Telcos. From the endless subsidies to making it nigh impossible to set up public municipal broadband to things like these, where internet is not going to cost less, it's just going to be paid differently (choose between taxes and increased prices in other tiers, or both).

  8. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    I hope this free internet comes with free discernment lessons, there be stupid people on these lands

  9. jmch Silver badge

    What's the bet

    "... will have internet service costs reduced by up to $30 a month, or up to $75 a month if they live on tribal lands."

    What's the betting that broadband on tribal lands will start costing $75 /mth

  10. martinusher Silver badge

    Biden obviously doesn't pay his cable bills

    Anyone who has Internet service in the US knows that there's a huge gap between advertised and reality. The low, low, teaser rate excludes "taxes and fees" and includes discounts. The advertised speeds may be realistic -- on a good day -- but the latency is likely to be hit and miss (i.e. you get blazing fast speeds to the nearest router...then things drop a tad).

    We're used to it. I may have to change my provider yet again because the cost has been creeping up -- its closing in on $100 a month. These companies are not in business to provide the most for the least, they need to provide the least for the most and there's a never ending search for creative ways to trap you into contracts that spiral in cost. A bit like cell phone providers, really (but wait -- they're effectively one and the same thing).

    The mistake was breaking up the Bell System.

  11. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    "The White House said 100Mbps is "fast enough for a typical family of four to work from home, do schoolwork, browse the web, and stream high-definition shows and movies."

    Wow, fuck me, how did I ever manage to serve a college of 1000 napster-downloading students with just four T1's bonded together? Oh, yeah, a Packetshaper. But 100 Mb/s is now merely "fast enough"? (That's four 4K movies streaming from Netflix, if memory serves) That's like saying "a Mercedes is good enough for a typical family of four to get to work and school". I know I'm old and there are gigabit connections out there for cheap, but come on, 100Mb/s is fairly high-speed when you get down to it. That's not the minimal required speed to provide basic services at taxpayer's expense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reality

      I wouldn't take it personally. 100 is probably just one of those nice round numbers that appeal to those who grew up watching the Price is Right. Makes for some good marketing.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Reality

        In that case, would't 99.99 (+ p&p) be more appropriate?

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Reality

      Wow, fuck me, how did I ever manage to serve a college of 1000 napster-downloading students with just four T1's bonded together?

      Before each and every web page had MB of JavaScript & CSS blobs?

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: Reality

        I see your point there, and agree. Would probably need a 250 Gb/s link now, according to the White House's math.

  12. Lars Silver badge

    In a two party divided country like the USA this is an absolutely horrible decision for some.

    Sad really.

  13. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Bread & Circuses

    The White House said 100Mbps is "fast enough for a typical family of four to work from home, do schoolwork, browse the web, and stream high-definition shows and movies."

    Both spouse & I work from home. We live rural on a DSL line that runs 7mb down / 768k up. As a Reg reader, obviously I am in tech - there are 71 devices on my network at this moment.

    Let me be clear... Large file downloads suck. I cannot stream 4k, but 1080p comes through great. Everything else works just fine, including VOIP phone service, remote desktop, VPNs, etc.

    The White House wants 100Mbps for households? Bravo-sierra! That is way more bandwidth than is needed for the necessities of WFH & schoolwork. Browsing & streaming are not necessities, IMHO.

    If Biden wants to pander to a bunch of slackers who want to stream 4k Netflix simultaneously to multiple different devices, then that kind of bandwidth is needed.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I don't know how...

    I don't know how, but under the previous low income internet program, our local landline monopoly Centurylink and local cable monopoly Mediacom, both somehow got to say their plans under $50 were inelligible for the subsidies. Not sure how they got away with it since they just get full cash value (and therefore should not care what plan people get.) This of couse meant the subsidy was useless, the same people who could not afford the $30 plan couldn't afford a $65 plan with $30 knocked off either.

    Mediacom also screwed up their $30 plan. It used to be 3mbps but no cap. Now it's like 100mbps but a 10GB (not a typo) cap. Pretty worthless since a) you can blow through your month's cap in minutes. b) most streaming sites, the faster the connection the higher quality stream it gives so the 100mbps virtually guarantees you WILL blow through the cap in a matter of days.

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