Funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program is running out

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Hundreds of thousands of you may be faced with deciding whether internet service is still within your budget. That’s because a federal program that helped make it more affordable is running out of money.

The Internet can be expensive, but Oleta Fitzgerald of the Children’s Defense Fund makes this point clear.

“The Internet is not a luxury,” Fitzgerald said. “The internet is necessary for everything.”

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a federal program that started in 2021. Select households were eligible for a $30 monthly internet rebate and a one-time $100 device rebate.

“We had 244,000 households in Mississippi participating in that ACP program,” said Sally Doty, director of Mississippi’s Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility.

However, this is the last month where any funding is available. The subsidies were lower in May and will end completely after this month without a solution from Congress.

“If you work in the middle and lower middle class, and especially in rural areas, you are priced out of the service that your family needs,” Fitzgerald added. “And that is beneficial to your children’s ability to get better jobs and get better education.”

The state’s broadband office says there is no money flowing through their office that could fill the gap. However, losing the program could mean a situation of one step forward, one step back.

“By the end of 2028, every residential location in Mississippi should have access to affordable, reliable broadband. It is not only important that we develop it, but also that people use it,” says Doty. “And with the ACS going away, we are concerned about absorption rates as we grow into lower-density communities.”

Senator Roger Wicker is taking steps to first try to get temporary funding to expand the program, but also to look for long-term solutions. He thinks reforms are needed, such as eliminating the appliance rebate and changing the households that qualify to be those that need it most.

The FCC stopped accepting new applications for this affordable connectivity program in February and first notified participating households in March that the program would end without congressional action.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Do you see a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the story headline in your email.

Copyright 2024 WLBT. All rights reserved.