Vice President Kamala Harris is on the move, making stops in points south this week to tout the administration’s effort to bring affordable high-speed internet to families around the country. She spent part of her day Thursday speaking with families eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program in North Carolina.
During a stop in Charlotte, Harris said that the work of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. is tied directly to tangible outcomes for communities around the country. “It’s not real until it hits the streets,” Harris said.” It’s not real until real people have the ability to take advantage of what we hope will help them uplift their lives and connectivity.”
She also recognized the work of Tiffany White, a beneficiary of the program and who also works as a digital navigator with the Center for Digital Equity. White introduced the vice president in Charlotte.
Rohini Kosoglu, senior advisor to the vice president, told NewsOne that the vice president’s visit was part of a larger effort to raise awareness around the Affordable Connectivity Program that was funded in large part by the infrastructure bill passed last year. The administration wrote all 50 state governors to encourage them to share information about the program with their residents.
Harris announced that a million households signed up to save on broadband access because of the program.
“When we talk about the internet, there are so many links to the economy every day,” Kosoglu said. “Students need it for doing homework in their homes. Or, if you want to open a small business, many times you must file things online. If you want to make sure you can upload or download different things for work. We’re in a day and age where that is so important.”
In her remarks earlier in the day, Harris tied expanding access to reproductive and maternal health and healthcare. She noted that expanding telehealth gives people more opportunities to get primary care. Kosoglu also mentioned the need to address historical issues and access to rural and tribal lands.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is now in its implementation phase to ensure eligible households are at least aware of the cost savings.
“It’s important that we are listening to families in terms of what they need and the importance of having internet access,” Kosoglu said. “We’re also preparing for the future as well. So that the internet that we build ten years from now can get upgraded that when we talk about high-speed internet, it’s still going to be high-speed internet in the future.”
The administration encourages households to check their eligibility for benefits under the Affordable Connectivity Program at GetInternet.gov. Receiving benefits through programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, free and reduced school lunch and Lifeline.
“The vice president is out today to make sure that people understand that the internet is not a luxury,” Kosoglu continued. “It is essential in this country. And we have to make sure that we’ll have access to the internet for you know, we do not want a digital divide in this country where some people have access to it, and some people don’t.”