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Important: Internet Access May Stop for Many Americans Today

The Affordable Connectivity Program, a government program that helps low-income Americans pay for fast internet, will end on April 30. Here's what will happen after that.


Today is the last day of the Affordable Connectivity Program, a major U.S. government program that helped people afford home internet. The end of this program is a big change, impacting millions of Americans who need this help.


What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

In 2021, the U.S. Congress passed a big law called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, often known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. It was a huge plan to help improve things like buses and trains, energy, and public services. Part of this law included the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which set aside $14.2 billion to help low-income families afford fast internet. If a family made less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, they could get $30 off their internet bill every month. People living on Tribal lands could get up to $75 off.


But now, that help is ending.


This is a big problem because having the internet is very important today, especially after COVID-19 made a lot of people work from home. Without the Internet, people might fall behind in society and have a harder time economically. Americans who were getting this discount will now see their internet bills go up, and they might struggle to pay for other important things like food and rent. Also, many who got their internet for free because of this program will now have to start paying tomorrow.


Why Is the ACP Expiring?

The issue is about money. Like any government-funded program, there's only so much money to use unless Congress decides to add more. The Biden administration has asked Congress several times to keep the program running, including a request last October for $6 billion to continue it and other spending. Despite these requests and support from groups and the Federal Communications Commission, nothing changed, and the program has now ended.


Who’s Affected?

According to the White House, over 23 million households have used the program since it started. That's about one in every six households. Now, these households need to find other ways to pay for their internet.


The end of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) isn't a surprise to the groups that support it. Knowing that the money was running out, the ACP stopped taking new applications in February 2024. The US Federal Communications Commission says that internet companies must tell users that the program is ending, so affected households should have gotten notices about this change.


What Happens Next?

Sadly, families who were getting help from the ACP will now have to pay the full price for their internet unless they can't afford it. If a family makes less than 200% of the federal poverty level, or if they get other government help like SNAP, Medicaid, or Social Security, they can still get a small discount on their internet bill. The Lifeline program, offered by the Universal Service Administrative Company, gives up to $9.25 per month off the internet bill (or up to $34.25 for those on qualifying Tribal lands).


Yesterday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the Biden administration is urging big internet companies to keep offering affordable plans, even though there's no more funding. However, it's not sure if these companies will agree.


If this affects you, your internet provider should have already sent you two messages about your service. If you haven't received these, you should call your provider. Soon, you'll need to decide if you can keep paying for your internet at the new price. The FCC has a page with information on the ACP ending, and they also suggest filing complaints if needed.


Key Points

  1. End of Discount Program: The ACP, which provided monthly discounts to help low-income families afford internet, has ended because it did not receive further funding from Congress.

  2. Full Price Payments: Families who benefited from the ACP will now need to pay the full price for their internet service unless they can access other smaller discount programs like Lifeline.

  3. Seeking Alternatives: Affected households need to explore alternative options, such as applying for Lifeline for a smaller discount, discussing lower-cost plans with their providers, or looking for local support if they cannot afford their internet bills.


FAQs

Q1. What should I do if I don't receive a notice about the ACP ending?

If you didn't get a notice, contact your internet provider directly to find out what's going on and discuss your options.


Q2. What can I do if I can't afford my internet bill now?

Look into other assistance programs like Lifeline, talk to your internet provider about lower-cost plans, or see if local charities can offer support. You can also file a complaint with the FCC if you face issues with your provider.


Q3. Why is the ACP ending?

The program is ending because it hasn't received more funds from Congress to continue running.

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