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‘Should have been done yesterday’: Rural, older Americans could get hurt as affordable internet program runs out of cash | CNN Business

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the impending collapse of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal benefit that provides low-income Americans with subsidies for home internet access. It highlights the impact this will have on vulnerable populations, including those with disabilities, the elderly, and rural residents, who rely on the program to access essential services and stay connected. The article also explores the political dynamics surrounding the program's potential expiration and the efforts by some lawmakers to extend its funding.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

1. What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?

  • The ACP is a federal benefit program that provides subsidies for home internet access to low-income Americans.
  • The program was created in 2021 as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law and has quickly gained widespread adoption.

2. Who are the main beneficiaries of the ACP?

  • The ACP is heavily used by Americans over age 50, military veterans, and low-income working families nationwide.
  • More than a quarter of ACP users live in rural areas, and roughly 4 in 10 enrolled households are located in the southern United States.
  • Almost 20% of ACP users are Americans over 65, and up to 10 million users are at least age 50.

3. What impact has the ACP had on its beneficiaries?

  • For many ACP recipients, the program has provided their first-ever experience with having home internet access.
  • The ACP has enabled beneficiaries to access essential services, such as telemedicine, online education, and communication with family and friends.
  • The program has been described as a "lifeline" for some, particularly those with disabilities or in rural areas with limited internet infrastructure.

[02] The Impending Collapse of the ACP

1. Why is the ACP at risk of collapsing?

  • The ACP is running out of funds, and Congress has not approved additional funding to extend the program.
  • In just a few weeks, the ACP will be forced to shut down, and beneficiaries will only receive partial benefits in the program's final month.

2. What will be the impact of the ACP's collapse on its beneficiaries?

  • The loss of the ACP subsidies will force many low-income households to make difficult choices between paying for internet or other essential expenses, such as food and rent.
  • Without the ACP, many beneficiaries may have to resort to ad hoc solutions, such as using public Wi-Fi or relying on limited cellular data plans, which may not adequately meet their needs.
  • The collapse of the ACP is expected to widen the digital divide and have a significant impact on vulnerable populations, including those with disabilities, the elderly, and rural residents.

3. What efforts have been made to extend the ACP's funding?

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation to authorize $7 billion to save the ACP, but the bill has not yet been brought to a vote.
  • The Biden administration has also called for additional funding for the program, but it faces resistance from some Republican lawmakers who have criticized government spending.
  • Policy experts have noted that extending the ACP could have long-term economic benefits, as the program has been shown to increase GDP and lead to savings in healthcare costs.
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