Digital and Political Divide: Funding has run out for key broadband subsidy

A major source of funding that offers rural Americans help to pay for the internet has dried up.

Members of the Senate Communications and Broadband panel say warnings were sent out to residents earlier this year but Congressional leaders could not come up with a solution in time.

“Now, each household will only receive a partial benefit if Congress fails to act. That will be the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program. Mind you, all of these customers across America received notices in January, as well, that this program was going away. Congress had a little bit of time to fix things,” said Ray Lujan.

The funding ran out because Congress did not approve a new $14 billion round of spending for the program. It gave a $30 discount to low-income households. However, Senator John Thune says he wants more information before Congress authorizes that amount of spending, and is calling for a thorough review of the program.

“It is imperative that the FCC conduct such an analysis so that we can make informed decisions on the future of broadband affordability programs for truly low-income Americans. And simply saying 23 million households will lose broadband if ACP does not receive new funding is not undertaking a fundamental analysis.”

Thune says funding the program like it was before would cost more than $19 billion a year.