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Millions of Californians Face Internet Disconnection as Subsidy Nears Expiry

Nearly 3 million Californians at risk of losing home internet service as subsidy expires

Four years ago, Claudia Aleman and her family relied solely on their cell phones to access the internet. This limited connectivity posed challenges to their education, healthcare, and accessing essential services. However, a significant change occurred with the introduction of a federal subsidy that covered a portion of their monthly internet bill, making it more affordable.

The Affordable Connectivity Program, initiated during the pandemic, provided crucial support to millions of low-income households across the United States, including Aleman’s family. However, the program’s funding is set to expire, creating uncertainty and financial strain for many families who depend on it to stay connected.

Aleman expressed her concerns about the program’s impending end, highlighting the financial difficulties her family faces without the subsidy. She emphasized the program’s importance in enabling access to education, healthcare, and communication, particularly for marginalized communities.

Millions of Californians Face Internet Disconnection as Subsidy Nears Expiry

Millions of Californians Face Internet Disconnection as Subsidy Nears Expiry (Credits: Calmatters)

Despite the program’s success and widespread enrollment, its future hangs in the balance due to funding shortages. Efforts to secure additional funding through legislation face challenges, including partisan disagreements and concerns about misuse of funds.

The potential expiration of the program raises concerns about exacerbating the digital divide, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Without affordable internet access, many households may face difficulties in accessing essential services and opportunities, further widening existing disparities.

While some states, like California, have allocated additional funds to support affordable internet access, it may not be sufficient to fill the gap left by the federal program. There is a sense of urgency among advocates and policymakers to find a solution before the program lapses, to prevent disruptions in connectivity for millions of households.

For Aleman and her family, the subsidized internet service has been transformative, facilitating education, healthcare, and communication. However, with the program’s uncertain future, they face the prospect of reverting to limited connectivity options, potentially impacting their daily lives and opportunities for advancement.

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