White House Urges Congress to Extend Internet Subsidy Program Before Funds Run Out

In a move to safeguard the internet access of millions of American households, the White House is set to intensify efforts in April to persuade Congress to extend a vital subsidy program. Officials have sounded the alarm just weeks before the program faces an imminent funding shortfall, Reuters news report said.
digital marketing and InternetThe Affordable Connectivity Program has more than 23 million broadband subscribers. That’s more than 1 in 6 U.S. households. The average monthly bill for using an Internet connection in the United States is around $75.

Initially proposed in October, the White House sought $6 billion to prolong the program until December 2024. However, Congress has yet to allocate the necessary funds, raising concerns about the potential loss of internet service for millions of households.

Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a blog post emphasized the urgency of the situation in a letter to lawmakers, highlighting that April marks the final month for participants to receive the full subsidy, with only partial subsidies available in May.

The program, originally allocated $17 billion by Congress, aimed to assist lower-income families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in gaining access to broadband services through a $30 per month voucher.

Jessica Rosenworcel stressed the importance of maintaining the program, stating, “We have come too far to allow this successful effort to promote internet access for all to end.”

Enrollment in the program was frozen by the FCC on February 8th, adding pressure to the situation. The White House asserts that the initiative, dubbed the Affordable Connectivity Program, has enabled users to collectively save over $500 million per month on their internet bills.

Major telecommunications companies such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have joined the chorus urging Congress to extend the program. Bipartisan legislation, spearheaded by Senators Peter Welch, JD Vance, Jacky Rosen, and Kevin Cramer, proposes allocating $7 billion to sustain the program. In the House, a bill with the backing of 216 members seeks to fund the program for one year.

Highlighting the potential consequences of inaction, the FCC referenced a survey indicating that if the program were to conclude, over three-quarters of participating households would experience service disruption or would have to change their existing plan or stop service altogether.

TelecomLead.com News Desk