2:56 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, Llulisa. I — it is part of the reason that we are so excited about this effort — it is because it’s about investing in the future our nation, and that means investing in our future leaders and our current leaders, of which Llulisa is one. So, thank you, Llulisa, for your leadership and your voice and your courage and your brilliance.
Mr. Roundtree, her principal, I want to say that she is doing a great job, and I want to thank you for all of the young students that you are mentoring. So, thank you. (Applause.)
So, it is a pleasure to be here today. And I want to thank Llulisa for really pointing out how essential the Internet is and how essential it is to have an Internet connection not only for the sake of their educational success, but in so many ways that is about understanding the full reality of a full human being.
So, it is a pleasure to be here today with also two true champions of our nation’s working people: FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who has worked for years to make high-speed Internet more affordable and more accessible. And thank you, Chairwoman, for your leadership.
And Mitch Landrieu, our administration’s infrastructure coordinator. He is passionate and he is dedicated and has lived a life of service. And I thank you, Mitch, for all that you have done on this issue and so many other issues.
So, I will begin with what I believe is a simple truth: In the 21st century, high-speed Internet is a necessity — not a luxury, a necessity.
Our world has moved online. And that is why, from day one, the President and I have fought to make it easier for everyone to access and afford high-speed Internet.
Today, we are celebrating a major milestone in that fight. You see, during the pandemic, millions of people — families, in particular — depended on high-speed Internet.
Young people use the Internet to access digital textbooks, attend virtual classes, and collaborate on science projects all at their kitchen table.
Parents use the Internet to buy groceries, paper towels,
and other daily essentials.
The Internet allowed folks to take care of their children
and get their essential needs accomplished.
Business owners, like the one I met from Missouri last year, rely on the Internet to coordinate with suppliers overseas.
Many workers use the Internet to do their jobs virtually.
People everywhere use high-speed Internet to stream movies
for family movie night — Llulisa talked about that; to video chat with friends that are far away; to view a tutorial on how to fix that leaky faucet; to read the news, check the weather, or plan a trip.
For so many of us, we use of the Internet as an essential and integrated part of our daily lives, and we take it for granted.
And yet, today, more than 42 million people in our country — 42 million people — do not have access to high-speed Internet, which obviously means students are sitting in fast food restaurant parking lots to do their homework over public Wi-Fi because that is the only place that they have Internet access.
Seniors are taking their telemedicine visits not at home in the privacy of their home, but in local libraries with little or no privacy.
There are many reasons why it is so difficult for people in our nation to access reliable high-speed Internet.
And, today, we are here to talk about one of the most
common reasons: cost — the expense of it. Half of all the people who do not have high-speed Internet say it is because the monthly cost is too high.
Well, the President and I know that the cost of living has gone up, and we are working hard to help working families pay their bills.
Every person in our nation, and every parent, no matter how much they earn, should be able to access high-speed broadband Internet. And that is why we are here today.
So, last year, we fought for and passed, with a lot of great support, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invested more than $14 billion to make high-speed Internet more affordable.
We also created the Affordable Connectivity Program
because we know access to affordable broadband is, of course, a vital issue.
And thanks to the Affordable Connectivity Program, one in four American households are now eligible to receive a discount
on their monthly Internet bill. And if your household qualifies, you will receive a voucher that will lower your Internet bill by $30 a month.
If you live on Tribal lands, that voucher will lower your bill by $75 a month.
The Affordable Connectivity Program also gives eligible households a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.
So, today, I am proud to announce that already more than 10 million American households have signed up for the Affordable Connectivity Program. (Applause.) That’s right. Well, thanks to you all.
And, yes, it is an historic accomplishment.
This milestone means more entrepreneurs are building digital businesses, more families are staying connected, more children in our country are able to do their homework at home. And this is only the beginning.
If you are eligible to receive affordable broadband support or even if you think you might be eligible, please call the number on the screen or visit — I’m going to give you a website —
[ACPBenefit.org]. And there, you can confirm whether you qualify, sign up for benefits, and learn how to redeem your voucher.
To make sure everyone knows this program is available, we are working with state and local governments to inform people that they are eligible.
We are working with community- and faith-based organizations to help people fill out their applications.
And we are calling on all Internet service providers to participate meaningfully in this program: to offer more affordable high-speed plans to customers and to spread the word to all eligible households.