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23 million Americans could soon pay more for home internet

A government program that provides people with internet subsidies will run out of funding unless Congress acts.
23 million Americans could soon pay more for home internet
Posted at 8:19 AM, Mar 25, 2024

Over 23 million U.S. households could soon have to pay more for internet as funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program will soon come to an end. 

The program launched at the end of 2021 and provided subsidies to low-income Americans for home internet service. The program has provided discounts of up to $30 per month toward internet service for low-income families. Households on qualifying tribal lands could get up to $75 in subsidies. 

Families who make up to 200% of the federal poverty level or receive SNAP or Medicaid benefits were among those able to get the subsidies. 

The program stopped accepting new applicants on Feb. 7 as part of its wind-down. The Federal Communications Commission said that April 2024 is the last fully funded month of the program. The program runs out of money in May unless Congress renews its funding. 

The FCC has urged Congress to approve new funds for the program, but so far, it has been to no avail. 

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“Many of these households have contacted the Commission to express their disappointment and frustration that they can no longer sign up for the program. Others have contacted the agency to express concern about the impending end of the program, noting its impact on older adults, families with school children, and military families at risk of losing their internet service without the ACP benefit,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a letter to Congress. “They worry that without ACP support they will lose access to employment, education, health care, and more.”

In January, a bipartisan group of senators, including two Democrats and two Republicans, drafted legislation to provide the program with an additional $7 billion. 

"This Congress, with bipartisan support, we’ve done an enormous amount, especially as a result of COVID, where there was a recognition that being on the internet and having access to that was really critical for the well-being of all of our families," said Peter Welch, D-Vermont. "Folks couldn’t go to school unless they had the internet, they couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment without the internet,” said Senator Welch.  We’ve built out the internet, but it’s no good if you can’t afford to get on it."

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