The FCC Finds Funding to Offer Discounted Internet Through April but Expects Money to Run Out in May
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The FCC Finds Funding to Offer Discounted Internet Through April but Expects Money to Run Out in May

In February the FCC stopped accepting new applicants for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This program offers discounts on Internet or phone service to low-income Americans. The program is running out of money waiting for Congress to provide new funding. Now the FCC is warning Internet service providers that in May it will only have enough money to give partial payments.

Typically, the FCC offers to cover $30 a month for Internet or phone service for those who qualify. Now the FCC is telling Internet providers it will only be able to cover between $7 and $16 for this program. This is better news than earlier reports saying the program would run out of money in April.

“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,” wrote Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in her recent letter to Congress. “They worry that without ACP support they will lose access to employment, education, health care, and more.”

There are several efforts to fund the program. The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act was recently introduced in Congress. This bill would provide an extra $7 billion to keep the ACP running.

Roughly 23 million Americans use the program and, if it runs out of money, they will see their bills increase. It is hoped that Congress will find a short-term or a long-term solution, such as a funding bill, before that happens. Though funding for this program is caught up in a bigger fight over federal government funding. For now, there is no timeline for when that will happen, leaving millions to face increased costs for Internet when the program ends.

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