Federally Subsidized Internet and Phone Service Ending

(StraightNews.org) – A federal program that subsidizes internet access for millions of Americans is at risk and could end in April, experts warn. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), established in 2021, gives up to $75 a month to help households pay for internet services, but is due to end in April. The Biden administration has asked for $6 billion to renew the scheme, but lawmakers have yet to approve the request.

According to ACP data, older and rural Americans will be most affected if the program shuts down. Of those who depend on it, 26% live in rural areas, 19% are seniors, and 41% are located in southern states. Furthermore, almost 50% are military families.

Gigi Sohn, a former official at the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees ACP, said approximately 23 million American households will be forced to choose between internet access, rent, or food.

Digital Progress Institute poll taken in January shows overwhelming and bipartisan public support for the federal program. Overall, 79% support it, including 62% of Republicans, 78% of independents, and 96% of Democrats.

The Institute has called on Congress to act quickly to ensure millions continue to have access to a service that is increasingly essential in everyday life.

In February, the White House issued a statement urging Congressional action and noting the submission of a supplemental request to Capitol Hill last October.

Additionally, a bicameral group of legislators introduced the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act in January, led by Senator Peter Welch and backed by JD Vance of Ohio, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and Reps. Yvette Clarke of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Several national organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Communications Workers of America, and groups representing older citizens, supported the legislation.

The White House argues that the internet is essential for access to education, healthcare, work, and social interaction, and cautioned Congress that unless it passes the extension legislation, health and other disparities will result.

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