Home Tech The affordable connectivity program kept them online. Now what?

The affordable connectivity program kept them online. Now what?

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 The affordable connectivity program kept them online. Now what?

“Now I pay about $35 a month, and that’s with $30 off my bill,” Perez says. “So eventually I will pay more than $60 a month.” Last weekend he used his data plan, which he uses for Internet on his phone, to help a former roommate who lives on a fixed income and whose Internet access was so limited that he was having a hard time process the paperwork. “He will send me his housing documents and I will upload them to him,” says Pérez.

“If we want to close our nation’s digital divide, the Affordable Connectivity Program is not nice, but necessary,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement in late February, when the end of the program was imminent. “We’ve come too far to turn back now.” That plea didn’t work.

According to an FCC survey of ACP beneficiaries released in December 2023, 77 percent of respondents said losing their ACP benefit would disrupt their Internet service by forcing them to change their plan or cancel their service entirely. About half of respondents said they had no Internet service or relied solely on mobile Internet before receiving the ACP benefit. Just over half of rural residents felt the same.

An overwhelming number of young people surveyed, aged 18 to 24, said they used the ACP benefit to complete schoolwork online. Seventy-two percent of all respondents said they used ACP-subsidized internet service to schedule or attend health care appointments, while nearly half said they used it for work.

Corporate Plans

Alex S., a freelance digital media marketer in Burbank, California, has been using his ACP benefit to boost his internet speed for remote work. (He requested anonymity because he is looking for more work and worries that potential employers will consider him untrustworthy without solid Internet access.)

“For the last 15 years I’ve had a very bandwidth-intensive, very millennial internet job,” says Alex, describing how he works with content creators across time zones and monitors their various social media accounts and live streams. for them. “I lost two of my most important clients at the beginning of the pandemic. I was able to keep my agency, but I ended up qualifying because my income fell below the threshold.”

Alex also describes himself as a “serial ISP promotion negotiator” and has managed to reduce his internet plan from $130 per month to almost $50 per month with various promotional discounts on top of the ACP benefit. Now his costs will skyrocket again. “I have to get new clients soon,” says Alex. “Otherwise, I will have to do temporary jobs.”

A bipartisan group of US senators and representatives this month called for an additional $7 billion that would extend the GPA through the end of the year. The White House has expressed its support but the proposal has not yet advanced in Congress.

Meanwhile, some telcos and ISPs are offering short-term subsidies and new discount plans to try to support low-income households that previously relied on the ACP. As WIRED’s Boone Ashworth reported today, there may still be some federally funded options.)

AT&T has said it will continue to offer its Home Internet Access Plan for $30 a month, “which provides eligible customers with data speeds of up to 100 Mpbs.” Verizon offers a plan that starts at $0 per month for new home Internet customers and up to $20 per month for some new and existing customers. Speeds start at 300 Mpbs.

Those who receive the ACP benefit through T-Mobile’s Assurance wireless plan will see no change to their wireless bills during August, meaning it will cost them $0 for talk, text and data with a “strong 4G LTE signal.” and confiable”.

And Perez says Metro, which is also part of T-Mobile, has indicated it will continue to offer a $15 reduction on your cell phone bill throughout the summer. “I feel like I’m not in as bad a situation as many others,” he says.

Additional reporting by Makena Kelly

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