23 million households lose internet discounts as federal program expires

As the Affordable Connectivity Program runs out of funding, some 23 million households are expected to lose out on discounts.
(Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

More than 23 million households will no longer receive financial support on their monthly internet bills after Congress failed to reach consensus to extend the Affordable Connectivity Program through the Federal Communications Commission. Friday marks the program’s final day of funding.

There have been at least two attempts by members of Congress to introduce bills that would have continued funding ACP, but both stalled. President Joe Biden’s administration last month blamed Republican lawmakers and asked them to support the program’s continuation. 

“Without Congressional action to extend funding for the program, millions of households are now at risk of losing their internet connections,” reads a White House fact sheet published Friday. “President Biden is once again calling on Congress to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, so tens of millions of Americans can continue to access this essential benefit.”

Households that qualified for the program saved between $30 to $75 each month on their internet bills. Some advocacy groups fear that the end of the internet subsidy program could undo progress made towards closing the digital divide by making services more affordable. 


“Even a brief time without this subsidy will make clear what we already know: low-income households struggle to afford the internet,” Jenna Leventoff, a senior policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement responding to the program’s conclusion. “We urge Congress to promptly revitalize this program to ensure that their constituents can stay connected.”

Jennifer Gutierrez, chair of the New York City Council’s technology committee, said the need for internet access for education, economic opportunities and essential services was “laid bare” by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The end of federal funding for the ACP not only jeopardizes the connectivity of these households, but also exacerbates existing inequities in broadband access,” she said in a statement.

The White House’s fact sheet highlighted numerous internet service providers that voluntarily offer plans at $30 or less to low-income households through the end of the year, including AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum and Comcast, along with smaller, regional providers. 

“As the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program ends today, Comcast has been working hard to communicate to our customers their robust choices at affordable prices to stay connected,” Comcast wrote in a blog post advertising its discounted internet services.

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