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San Antonio Officials Embrace Affordable Connectivity Program

Officials in the Texas city are urging residents to take advantage of the federally funded Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounts for Internet service as well as technology, like laptops and tablets.

(TNS) — San Antonio officials are promoting a federally funded program to combat the city's long-lasting digital divide made more obvious by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), is a government program open to eligible households to secure connectivity.

The program provides a $30 a month discount toward broadband services. In its promotion of the program, the city notes "several" San Antonio Internet service providers offer $30 monthly plans, so residents approved for the program would not have to pay out of pocket. ACP also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop, or tablet from a participating provider.

The digital divide has been an issue since the inception of the Internet, but the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the disparities as families worked and learned from home. In a call-out for survey input, the social media accounts for Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar's office says 17% of Texas students lack Internet access and 30% do not have an adequate learning device at home.

The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) previously told MySA that areas of San Antonio that were historically marginalized through racist policies like redlining have continued to lack in quality Internet access. According to the most-recent Census data, Bexar County has the lowest percentage of homes with broadband Internet subscriptions at 84.2% among major Texas counties.

San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh addressed the disparities in promoting the federal program.

"There is a digital divide in San Antonio, and we want to help bridge that gap," he says in a comment. "The City's goal is for every resident to have full, equitable access to digital and communications technology. The FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program, with its discounts for broadband service and a device, is a great opportunity for eligible residents and is another tool to help us reach our goal."

To qualify, a household's income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or if a person meets at least one of the criteria listed below.

  • Participates in one of these assistance programs: National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program (including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision), SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) WIC, Veterans pension or Survivor Benefits, or Lifeline.
  • Was awarded a Federal Pell Grant
  • Meets the criteria for an ISP's existing low-income Internet program.

Residents can find more information and enroll on the FCC website here or by calling 877-384-2575.

©2022 the San Antonio Express-News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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