23 million Americans will lose free internet today

Robin Layton

May 1, 2024 — 2 min read

Federal subsidy plan ended in April, leaving households with an extra bill or no internet.

family using computer at dinner table

As the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) ends, millions of Americans will lose free internet access today.

Internet providers participating in the ACP provided high-speed internet plans for $30/mo., which allowed anyone with a qualifying income level to receive a $30/mo. government stipend, making the internet plan free.

The federally-funded program was not funded past this date, despite several efforts. 

A press briefing this week addressed failed efforts to refund the Affordable Connectivity Program.

ACP participants can either end their service or pay the regular price to keep an internet connection. The program followed federal poverty guidelines, so many of the 23 million families who qualified most likely will be unable to keep their current service. 

Who benefits from the ACP

According to a White House Fact Sheet, military members, those residing on Tribal lands and seniors are among those who participate in the program:

  • Nearly half of the households benefitting from ACP are military families.
  • Four million seniors and 10 million Americans over 50 receive the ACP benefit.
  • 1-in-4 households participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program are African American and 1-in-4 are Latino.
  • The Affordable Connectivity Program provides an enhanced monthly subsidy to 320,000 households on Tribal lands, where high-speed internet is generally more expensive.

How can you continue to receive low-cost internet?

Some internet providers offer some low-cost options and Verizon is offering free internet for six months for new customers. Comcast (Xfinity) introduced pay-as-you-go internet plans as well. There are some regional providers like Breezeline with plans under $20/mo., as well as some larger cable and fiber providers with plans starting at $25/mo.

Allconnect gathered low-income internet resources to share:

Efforts to restore funding

As reported by PCMag, Congress is attempting through two bills to restore some of the ACP funding. One is the Spectrum and National Security Act of 2024 which basically reinstates spectrum auctions and allocates part of those monies to fund the ACP. The other bill is the Promoting Affordable Connectivity Act of 2024, “Money for that would come from assessments on residential and business broadband providers as well as on “edge service” platforms, similar to the USF contributions paid today by telecommunications carriers,” reported PCMag.

Even if the bills were to pass, there will still be a funding gap for former ACP recipients.

Find more broadband news and studies on trends in the industry on Allconnect’s news hub and research hub.

Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin Layton is an editor for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. She built her internet industry expertise writing and editing for four years on the site, as well as on Allconnect’s sister site MYMOVE.com. … Read more