The Affordable Connectivity Program was launched during COVID to provide a $30 a month benefit for high-speed internet access.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — More than 23 million American households are at risk of losing internet service because the federal program which offers free or discounted access is running out of money.

One in seven Pennsylvanians rely on the Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP, to stay connected. It provides a significant discount or full payment for high speed internet access to people in need. But as it stands right now, April will be the last month the benefit will be fully provided.

The Affordable Connectivity Program was launched during COVID to provide a $30 a month benefit for high-speed internet access for our most vulnerable citizens.

“Your low income, your SNAP food recipients, people that are experiencing various versions of homelessness, domestic violence victims, veterans,” said Jordan Axt of the National Lifeline Association.

And many qualifying seniors like Sandra Speight, who lives in Philadelphia’s Olney section.

“And that is such a blessing for someone who can’t afford it and I need it. Everybody needs it,” she said.

In Philadelphia alone, there are more than 177,000 households enrolled.

“So that they can continue their education in online classes. So that they can apply for benefits,” said Kieran Farrell of Beyond Literacy.

More than one million veterans across the U.S. also depend on the ACP. In fact, nearly half the households benefitting are military families. But the program is set to run out of money at the end of April.

“So these consumers that participate in the ACP program are looking at either having their bill increased by $30, or potentially being disconnected altogether,” said Axt.

Which, especially for seniors or people with disabilities, means no more telehealth appointments, ability to pay bills online or do remote work, study or socialize.

“Without affordable internet, they’re really closed off,” said Farrell.

New enrollments in the program already ceased on February 8th.

“The biggest thing that consumers can do today is reach out to their congress people,” said Axt.

The ACP Extension Act has been introduced that would extend the ACP by one year. A number of our local Congress people are sponsors.

“I am pleading with these politicians that there are people out there who don’t have the money for this and we need it,” said Spaight.

There are some critics of the program like Senator Ted Cruz saying it has a quote “record of targeting taxpayer subsidies to consumers who already had broadband.” But generally, the program does have strong bi-partisan support.

View the original coverage here: 6abc WPVI-TV Philadelphia

For more information:

FCC Notice of ACP Ending

Affordable Connectivity Program Fact Sheets

ACP Extension Act

ACP Data

Take Action to Save ACP

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