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More Than 300,000 Alabamans Could Lose Internet Access

Some 16 million U.S. households – including more than 320,000 in Alabama – face losing Internet subsidies if Congress fails to extend the Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers a $30 discount on broadband.

Closeup of yellow broadband cables with blue plugs plugged into a board.
(TNS) — Some 16 million U.S. households – including more than 320,000 in Alabama – face losing internet subsidies if Congress fails to extend an existing program.

The Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, offers a $30 discount on broadband services to qualifying low-income households. Funding is expected to run out next year unless it is extended by Congress, CNBC reported.

“In 2024, or when the money runs out, the program could be completely obliterated,” Nicol Turner Lee, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, told CNBC. “Millions could be left in the dark without broadband service for the very same reasons they didn’t have it in the first place.”

ACP replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a pandemic-era program that helped pay for internet services, when it ended in 2021. EBB offered $50, an amount that was cut to $30 under ACP. ACP also provides a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from a participating provider.

As of January, some $6.1 billion of the funds has been claimed by broadband service providers for customer reimbursements. Based on the current enrollment rate of about 200,000 households a week, the money will be depleted in 2024, CNBC reported, barring any Congressional intervention.

In Alabama, 326,187 households are enrolled in ACP.

To be eligible, a household member has to have an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline or approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program. Federal Pell Grant recipients or those that receive housing assistance, WIC or veterans pensions are also eligible.

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