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UNPLUGGED: Affordable Connectivity Program ending in April

The FCC benefit program helping to close the digital divide out of money
Posted at 10:29 AM, Mar 26, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Adeyinka Ogunlegan, an advocate for the Affordable Connectivity Program, urges people impacted by the program's end in April to contact their local representatives to allocate additional funding.

  • Video shows impacts to local community members who are currently enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program
  • The Federal Communications Commission pulled the plug on the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program in January.
  • Close to 3 million households in California are enrolled, and data from January 2024 to February 8, 2024 shows more than 100,000 total subscribers in Kern county.

If you have internet service now, you may not by the end of April.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, a Federal Communications Commission benefit program that offers discounts on internet service is ending because of a lack of funding.

The Federal Communications Commission pulled the plug on the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program in January.

“It’s interwoven into so many aspects of out lives, Adeyinka Ogunlegan, the Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy at Education Super Highway, an organization dedicated to closing the digital divide, said. "It's a shame that many household have to choose whether or not they can connect to the internet because they can’t afford it.”

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the FCC launched the program on December 31, 2021, offering $30 a month to qualifying households and $75 a month to households on qualifying tribal lands to bridge the connectivity gap.

“They took the right steps when they created the program coming out of the pandemic, seeing how important internet access is to so many households,” Ogunlegan said.

At the beginning of March, the FCC announced a lack of additional funding from Congress prompted an end to the full ACP discount in April, and unless Congress allocates more money to the program, it will end completely in May.

I reached out to Congressman David Valadao who says he’s written letters to house leaders to address the program’s shutdown, but adds he believes there needs to be changes to better serves those most in need.

“It was put out there pretty broadly," Valadao said. "There were a lot of people who were getting it who didn’t necessarily need it, so it ended up raising the cost, and now the punishment is no one gets it.”

Close to 3 million households in California are enrolled, and data from January 2024 to February 8, 2024 shows more than 100,000 total subscribers in Kern county.

Valadao says he’s heard concerns from multiple people benefiting from the discount.

“The folks that desperately need it, obviously, are concerned about it because it is a cost, and with inflation, with the high price of fuel and food and everything else. This is just another cost, another burden," he said.

I reached out to Spectrum, one of the local internet providers participating in the program about the wind down.

Company officials released a statement that read, “Spectrum was a day one participant in the Affordable Connectivity Program and has helped millions of families get and stay connected. With the potential end of funding for the program, we have been following the FCC’s requirements for communicating with our customers who are enrolled in ACP.”

And Ogunlegan encourages people who may be impacted by the program’s end to contact their local representatives.

“Whether you benefit from it directly, you know someone who is probably enrolled in this program,” she adds.

Although this program is ending, you may quality for Lifeline which offers $9.25 a month off phone, internet, or bundled services and $34.25 if you live on qualifying tribal lands.


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