White House asks Congress for $6 billion to extend Internet subsidy program – official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is asking Congress for an additional $6 billion for a government broadband internet subsidy program used by 21 million American households that is set to run out early next year, an official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Congress has already appropriated $17 billion to help low-income families and individuals affected by Covid-19 access the Internet through $30-a-month vouchers to use to pay for Internet service.

The White House says the program, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission and known as the Affordable Connection Program, will help existing users save more than $500 million a month on their Internet bills. An additional $6 billion in government funding will extend the program through December 2024, the official said.

“Congress must act quickly to fund the Affordable Connectivity Program and prevent more than 21 million households from losing access to affordable, high-speed Internet,” Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council, said in a statement to Reuters. ».

Internet service providers say about 27 million other households in the United States are eligible but have not yet signed up.

Verizon, Comcast and AT&T have all asked Congress to extend the program, which could expire in March.

Verizon said earlier this year that Congress should create a plan to preserve program funding as well as long-term reforms to current broadband subsidy programs to ensure they operate efficiently, avoid duplication, and provide funding for Target those who need it most.

AT&T has told users that funding is “at risk and we need your help” and urged them to contact lawmakers.

(Reporting by David Shepherdson)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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