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Nearly 240,000 Harris County households could lose access to broadband internet as early as next month as funding runs out for a national program providing monthly subsidies to low-income residents.

The Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, implemented in 2022 using more than $14 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, provides up to $30 a month to eligible households for internet service.

Funding for the program, however, will run out by the end of this month. 

Without Congressional action, more than 23 million American households receiving monthly benefits will be left looking for alternatives.

Any remaining funds will help provide certain households a partial discount in the month of May, but the program will end after that.

“I urge Congress to act swiftly to extend the ACP,” Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said in a written statement. “The bipartisan support for the ACP Extension Act is a positive step. Still, immediate action is necessary to prevent a significant setback in our collective efforts to end the digital divide.”

How to find affordable internet in Harris County

Ellis said county officials are working to help residents find alternatives to the ACP.

Residents can reach out to the county’s Office of Broadband for help finding free or low-cost internet services, obtain a free or low-cost device, or receive basic technical support. The department’s website includes a list of resources for low-income residents.

Residents can reach the Office of Broadband at 832-927-9434, or via mail at [email protected].

The county is hosting precinct-specific help sessions at Harris County Public Library branches. A schedule of all in-person help opportunities can be found here.

When will affordable internet access end?

Internet access will not automatically end for all ACP households after this month. 

According to the FCC, internet access will continue for households that:

  • previously agreed to continue internet service from their internet company;
  • paid for internet service from their internet company before they started receiving the ACP discount;
  • Or currently contribute to the cost of their internet service even with the ACP discount applied.

Households will not continue to receive internet service after the ACP ends if they:

  • did not previously agree to continue internet service after the end of ACP or
  • have not paid their internet company for service.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to extend funding for the ACP through the end of the year, which has been backed by FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, but the bill faces a steep battle from Republicans in Congress.

As the ACP’s ending looms, more than 1.7 million Texas households face a potential loss of internet access, including more than 300,000 in the Houston region.

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Tim Carlin is the Abdelraoufsinno's civic engagement reporter. An Ohio native, Tim comes to Houston after spending a year in Greenville, South Carolina, covering Greenville County government for The Greenville...