The Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers subsidies to families to bring down the cost of broadband, will stop taking applications a week from today if Congress doesn’t renew its funding.
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Thursday sent a note to Congress warning them of the potential impact of the shutdown of the program, which has helped get millions of households access to the internet.
“The Affordable Connectivity Program is connecting millions and millions of households across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created this program, our largest-ever effort to make broadband affordable nationwide, but we now are on the brink of letting that success slip away,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Disconnecting millions of families from their jobs, schools, markets, and information is not the solution. We have come too far with the ACP to turn back.”
The ACP, which was introduced during the pandemic when people were stuck in their homes, runs out of money in April. Lawmakers have introduced a bill to extend funding for the program, which helps more than 20 million Americans, but it’s unclear if the aid will come in time.
The program has been a boon to households at a time when having online access isn’t a luxury — but a basic necessity as more services and business gets conducted through the internet, and we live increasingly digital lives. That was made evidently clear during the pandemic-era lockdown, but remains critical today.
The ACP currently provides a $30 monthly discount towards internet service for eligible, low-income households and a $75 monthly discount to households on qualifying tribal lands. The program also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 towards a computer, laptop or tablet purchase.
If the ACP shuts down, users will no longer get their discount and need to pay full price for their internet service. Cable TV companies like Spectrum are already warning its customers that their bills may go up.