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FCC Terminates Low-Cost Internet Initiative Owing to Funding Shortage

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With the official closure of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), low-income Americans now have easier access to the internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declared the shutdown on Friday and blamed it on Congress’s failure to provide additional cash.

The ACP, which was introduced during the pandemic, gave qualifying households monthly credits of up to $30 or up to $75 if they lived on tribal territories. Nearly 60 million Americans, including seniors, veterans, and people living in both rural and urban regions, benefited from the program.

According to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, “The Affordable Connectivity Program filled an important gap that provider low-income programs, state and local affordability programs, and the Lifeline program cannot fully address.” This highlights the significance of the program. She said she would be willing to pick up the program again if Congress gave the organization more money.

The initiative was terminated due to Congressional inertia, especially from Republican leaders, despite suggestions for greater financing and bipartisan support. The GOP leadership’s refusal to prolong the ACP has drawn widespread criticism from President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers.

In order to extend the ACP, Biden reaffirmed his demand for legislative action. Additionally, he disclosed pledges from internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to provide affordable services to a portion of the impacted homes. Of the 23 million households that depended on the ACP, only roughly 10 million will be impacted by these initiatives.

Proposals state that the ACP would need an additional $6 billion to $7 billion in investment to continue, on top of its $14 billion initial funding.

The state of affairs is “disheartening,” according to Kathryn de Wit, director of the Pew Charitable Trust’s broadband access initiative. She cautioned that many low-income households may experience higher internet fees and even disconnection in the absence of the ACP.

With the official termination of the ACP on June 1st, millions of Americans now face increased internet costs and financial uncertainties.

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