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Millions of eligible Americans not taking advantage of discounted internet program

Identity Theft Report
Posted at 9:46 AM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 15:55:09-04

Millions of Americans can't afford to connect to the internet, but the government's Affordable Connectivity Program is trying to help with that. It gives eligible households a discount on service of up to $30 per month.

The program makes the internet free in many cases. Nearly a year since the program launched, enrollment is still low.

A new report from EducationSuperHighway finds of the more than 51 million eligible households, only 13 million, or 25 percent, have enrolled.

But it's not easy to do.

“The application is online,” said Evan Marwell, founder of EducationSuperHighway. “So first you have to find your way online. It's not optimized for a mobile device. So even if they have a cellphone, and they try to go there, it's really quite difficult, and it ends up taking 35-45 minutes to go through the whole application process and you need to have a whole bunch of documentation to prove your eligibility.”

Awareness about the benefit and trust in the government program are other hurdles to getting people signed up.

Some cities, including Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit, are seeing higher adoption rates.

“They're engaging their communities. They're doing outreach at the city level,” Marwell said. “But They're also getting the people who already have relationships with the households that are eligible for the affordable connectivity program to do outreach them as well.”

The nonprofit is working with the government agency that runs the program to try to make the application process more user-friendly.

Until then, you can go to a website that will work on your phone to help you apply.