A sizable number of home internet subscribers in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as elsewhere around the country could see their bills go up significantly this spring.

For many, the increase could nearly double what they've been paying in recent years. Here's what's going on.

History of the Affordable Connectivity Program

Photo by Headway on Unsplash
Photo by Headway on Unsplash
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Back in 2021, Congress passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that included funding for a program called the Affordable Connectivity Program. Of that $1 trillion, $14.2 billion was allotted to the ACP to help Americans get more affordable access to internet service.

Under the ACP program, eligible households could receive a $30 credit toward their monthly internet service with a $75 monthly credit provided for households on qualifying Tribal lands.

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This pandemic-era program was geared toward helping individuals and families more easily achieve internet access as people found themselves working or attending school over the internet.

The program also allowed for qualified individuals to get a one-time discount of up to $100 toward the purchase of a laptop/desktop computer or a tablet from a participating provider.

The potential end to the Affordable Connectivity Program

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Photo by Thomas Jensen on Unsplash
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While it is not guaranteed this program will end, it looks likely at this time.

At issue is the fact the program is about to run out of the $14.2 billion in funding that was allocated by Congress. The Federal Communications Commission has been preparing for the potential end to this program, as Congress has not taken action to add additional funding.

Among those actions, the FCC quit taking new applications on February 8, 2024 and published a "wind down" document to provide information to those who have been relying on the program.

When could the Affordable Connectivity Program end?

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Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash
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As of right now, the FCC is projecting that the ACP will run out of funding in April of 2024, effectively ending the program. This is an approximate date, and may change as the program's funding dwindles.

This would return prices to their normal, non-discounted market rate for anyone who has been receiving the credit.

Unless Congress adds additional funding, households that have been receiving the internet service credit will cease receiving them after this.

What should people using the Affordable Connectivity Program know?

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Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash
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According to the FCC's ACP wind down documentation, eligible households that have been receiving the credit will continue to get it until the program runs out of funding.

Households that have been receiving the credit will be getting notices from their internet provider about the end of the program and how it will impact their bill and service. This will include the final bill they will receive the discount once this is known.

If you are looking to change or end your internet plan as a result of this change, the FCC says you will be able to do so without penalty.

What can you do?

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Photo by Stephen Phillips - Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash
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If you have been receiving an ACP credit and would like to continue doing so, the best thing you can do is to reach out to your Congressperson to urge them to re-fund the program.

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