US internet subsidy program set to run out of money in May


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission on Monday said a government broadband internet subsidy program used by 23 million American households will run out of money in May and be shuttered without action by Congress.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel told lawmakers in a letter that April is the last month participants will get the full subsidy, with partial subsidies expected in May. Congress previously allocated $17 billion to help lower-income families and people impacted by COVID-19 gain internet access through a $30 per month voucher to use toward internet service.

“I believe we have come too far with the program to turn back and lose the gains we have made connecting so many households across the country,” Rosenworcel said Monday.

The FCC froze enrollment on Feb. 8 for new users.

The White House in October asked for $6 billion to extend the program through December 2024 but Congress has not acted. The FCC says there is insufficient funding to support government subsidies beyond April.

The White House says the program known as the Affordable Connectivity Program, helps current users save over $500 million per month on their internet bills. Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, have all called for Congress to extend the program.

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Peter Welch, JD Vance, Jacky Rosen and Kevin Cramer would provide $7 billion for the program and similar legislation has been introduced in the House.

The FCC cited a survey that if the program ends more than three-quarters of the households in the program “would experience service disruption or would have to change their existing plan or stop service altogether.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Aurora Ellis)

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