A Federally Funded Program That Helps Families Pay for Internet Service May Soon Come to an End

A Federally Funded Program That Helps Families Pay for Internet Service May Soon Come to an End

In the next few weeks, a government program that helps about 500,000 homes in South Carolina pay for their monthly internet service might end.

With the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), households below a certain income level can get a monthly discount on their internet service. Without this discount, some families might not be able to pay this cost.

Congressman Jim Clyburn thinks the Affordable Connectivity Program is a good idea and wants more money to be spent on making it last longer.

“We will do everything we can to keep broadband prices low.” Making things easy to get to is one thing. Making them cheap is a whole different thing, which is why Clyburn said, “We worked as hard as we could.”

But some people, like Gov. Henry McMaster, say that programs like this one that were made during pandemics should stop.

“Programs that were supposed to be short-term at first tend to get bigger and longer.” She said, “I believe we need to be very careful about that.”

The White House says that since the program began in late 2021, South Carolina has gotten almost $24 billion for it, and one in five households has signed up.

Jim Stritzinger, who runs the state’s Broadband Office, thinks that a lot of those people will still keep this service even after the program stops.

“The great thing about ACP is that it helped a lot of homes get internet, maybe for the first time, and enjoy what it’s like to have broadband,” Stritzinger said.

More than a billion dollars have been given to South Carolina in the last few years to help improve internet access. A lot of this money comes from the federal government.

Service providers can use some of that money to build broadband networks. The state’s Broadband Office gives funds to these providers.

“Cost has been a big part of our decision about whether to give the grant or not…” “Many of the service providers offer very cheap service, even if ACP were to go away,” Clyburn said.

Stritzinger says that the money that South Carolina has spent and is still spending on expanding internet has uses beyond just connecting homes.

“Getting the fiber in the right places will change everything for the state.” Sure, we want the people who live there to be able to use it, but that will turn everything on. It starts travel and tourists, and it starts precision farming. “Our economy as a whole will come to life,” Clyburn said.

Through the government Universal Service Fund program, low-income families can ask for help paying their internet bills. But the Affordable Connectivity Program won’t give them as much money as it could, and fewer people will be able to use it.

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