By Brian Fung, CNN
Washington (CNN) — Millions of Americans risk losing internet access or may face higher internet prices by as early as April if Congress does not quickly approve more funding for a popular federal aid program, the Federal Communications Commission warned on Monday.
In a letter to US lawmakers obtained by CNN, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wrote that more than 1,700 participating internet providers “may cut off service to households” when existing funding runs out for the Affordable Connectivity Program, an outgrowth of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law that gives qualifying low-income households a monthly discount on internet plans.
“If Congress does not provide additional funding for the ACP in the near future, millions of households will lose the ACP benefit that they use to afford internet service,” Rosenworcel told leading members of Congress in the letter. “More funding is urgently needed to keep the ACP in place, so that it can continue to support the households that rely on it and reach others that may be on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
The letter was earlier reported by CBS News. The White House has requested that Congress extend the ACP with a $6 billion infusion of new funding.
Without any assurances that the $14 billion program can continue, the FCC will begin initial steps this week to wind down the ACP, Rosenworcel said, beginning with notices to consumers, internet providers and others about the program’s coming demise.
In the coming weeks, the FCC plans to stop taking new ACP signups and finally, announce a specific termination date for the program, unless funding is restored.
Nearly 23 million households nationwide currently benefit from the ACP, including seniors, veterans, minorities and others who qualify through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunch benefits, Veterans Affairs programs and other forms of means-testing.
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