The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how the digital divide—the nationwide disparity in access to internet—severely affects rural Tribal communities. Although access to the internet is absolutely essential for working mother Kandie Guynn, the high cost almost led her to cut internet services from her bills.
Kandie is a working mother of four and Indigenous Chickasaw living on Tribal lands. When the pandemic hit, many services and businesses went online to protect the community. Kandie’s children needed to be online more to learn and stay entertained while at home. Kandie saw how important access to the internet was for her community, as it was their only way to stay connected in the midst of the pandemic. For Kandie’s family, the internet connects them to school, work, and family—it became as essential as water or electricity. When she heard she qualified for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was expanded under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—also known as the bipartisan infrastructure law—she was relieved to see her internet bill drop from $100 to $24 per month. Before the ACP, Kandie was prepared to give up access to the internet in order to afford food and gas. But thanks to the program, she does not have to make that decision.
When I saw I qualified for the ACP, I felt relieved. It took my bill from $100 down to $24. With everything getting more expensive, things like the cable, internet, and phone bills would have had to be turned off to afford everything else.
The Affordable Connectivity Program expansion in the IIJA delivers low-cost internet to millions of low-income and Indigenous families to help bridge the digital divide. In connecting more Americans to the economic and social benefits of the internet, the ACP helps to achieve an equitable recovery from the effects of the pandemic.
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This collection features stories from Americans across the country whose lives and communities have benefited from the legislative and executive actions passed under the Biden administration.