Federal discount on broadband is ending for 25,000 Alaska families

A bunh of cables behind a box
(Photo by Sarah Yu/KTOO)

A federal subsidy that has helped low-income families afford broadband is running out of money.

The Affordable Connectivity Program provides discounts of $30 per month for most eligible households. Some 25,000 Alaska households were receiving the benefit in February. But the government has announced that April will be the last fully funded month.

Congress included the subsidy in its 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. The Biden administration has been pushing Congress to fund the program again. Some Republicans oppose, pointing to instances of fraud.

The monthly subsidy is a small part of the $2 billion the infrastructure law sent to Alaska for broadband. Much of it is intended to construct and upgrade the rural Alaska network. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who helped negotiate the law, is focused on achieving sustainable, affordable broadband for Alaska, spokesman Joe Plesha said. He said she’s considering the Affordable Connectivity Program, along with other ways to expand broadband access.

Nearly 70% of the Alaska homes benefitting from the connectivity discount are in Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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