In a communication from Aristata CEO Carlin Walsh, Chaffee residents who are Aristata customers have learned that the monthly Affordability Connectivity Program assistance credit for high-speed internet will come to an end in April, 2024. That is, unless Congress extends this program and continues to fund it, which doesn’t look promising.
“In spite of our persistent efforts to see the Affordability Connectivity Program extended, the federal government has notified us that funds for this program will be depleted by the end of April 2024,” wrote Walsh. “This assistance has been a critical resource for rural Americans, ensuring that over 23 million families in need of affordable, high-speed internet received a credit on their monthly bill. Many of Aristata’s customers participate and benefit from this program.”
The Affordable Connectivity Program was set up in 2021 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The goal was to expand broadband internet access to millions of low-income Americans who either lacked internet access entirely or who didn’t have a stable connection.
The program subsidizes the cost of monthly internet bills by up to $30 (or $75 on tribal lands). It includes those receiving SNAP benefits, those on Veterans Pensions, or HUD recipients and those receiving government benefits, to provide vital connectivity that they did not have at home, or could not afford.
While the end of this program will not impact the internet service provided by Aristata Communications, it does mark a shift, as the federal government sunsets programs instigated during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist Americans in coping with the pandemic realities. With millions of business people, schools and even local government staffers working from home, it was recognized that access to the Internet was not a luxury, but a necessity.
Walsh has suggested that Aristata customers consider reaching out to Colorado’s two U.S. Senators, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper and Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen to request the extension of and replenished funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
At the moment, the program is still taking registrations, but after Feb. 7, the FCC will no longer enroll new applicants into the Affordable Connectivity Program unless Congress approves more funding after the April expiration date.
“Reliable, affordable internet is no longer a luxury. It is a vital and essential necessity for all, including rural Americans,” said Walsh.
Featured image: Image by Nectmodem.com.