Affordable Connectivity Program running out of money. What does this mean for more than 73,000 Utahns?

Feb 8, 2024, 7:00 AM | Updated: 10:02 am

Affordable Connectivity Program running out of money...

A signal pole that was built during the pandemic for students to access internet is pictured at Rose Atene’s house in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, on Thursday, May 26, 2022. Funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program is set to expire unless it gets more funding from Congress. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Funding for the national Affordable Connectivity Program will expire soon unless it gets more funding from Congress. Currently, there are more than 73,000 Utahns who rely on this federal program that helps pay for internet access.

The ACP allows low-income families to receive a $30 monthly discount on their internet costs. Those on tribal lands can receive a $75 monthly discount.

Salt Lake County’s coordinator for the Affordable Connectivity Program Sean Porter said this could hit some people hard.

“Some of the most at-risk folks are folks on tribal lands (and) folks who are living in more rural areas,” he said.

Additionally, Porter said it could mean downsizing, for many people.

“They might have to shrink down to a more restricted broadband, which could cut off some services they might need,” Porter said. “Or take money out of their grocery bill … to try and accommodate for that new expenditure they’re taking on.”

Clint Cottam from the Community Action Partnership of Utah said losing a benefit worth $30 a month could make a big difference for some families.

“That (could be) a co-pay and a prescription for their child,” he said. “Or (they could) spend $30 (on) extra groceries they didn’t have before.”

Those who were enrolled by Wednesday night will continue to get funding through at least the end of April.

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Affordable Connectivity Program running out of money. What does this mean for more than 73,000 Utahns?