June 22, 2024 11:24 pm
Close this search box.

Local News

Internet subsidy used by 1 in 6 Georgia households set to end soon, unless Congress extends program


Benjamin Payne, GPB News

White House officials are warning that a federal subsidy which helps low-income households afford home internet access will expire at the end of April, unless Congress authorizes more funding.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides monthly discounts of $30 to 698,593 Georgia households — roughly 1 in 6 households in the state. It is the successor to a similar program which began during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At this point, 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,” Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wrote in a letter Monday to lawmakers.

“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,” she continued, adding that about 1,700 internet service providers would also be impacted.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced bills Wednesday in the U.S. House and Senate that would provide $7 billion of funding to extend the ACP — $1 billion more than the White House had asked for in its request last fall to fund the ACP through the end of 2024.

“ACP doesn’t just get families online for the first time — it helps them stay online,” Stephen Benjamin, an advisor to President Joe Biden, said to reporters Tuesday. “That kind of stability is critical for our nation’s students who need a reliable connection to do their homework, for seniors on a fixed income and for entrepreneurs trying to start a business from home.”

Southwest Georgia has the state’s highest participation in the program; there, in the 2nd Congressional District, 1 in 3 households receives ACP assistance.

In addition to monthly assistance on home internet service, the program offers a one-time discount of $100 to eligible households for the purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.

This story comes to Savannah Sun Times through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Georgia Supreme Court justices appear skeptical of Athens DA’s claim of open records exemption

In an upcoming ruling, Georgia’s Supreme Court will weigh in on a claim brought by Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, arguing that top prosecutors are exempt from the state’s open records laws. The case involves assertions that the trial court overlooked a constitutional provision in denying Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss an open records complaint, mirroring similar immunity arguments made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a separate case related to the 2020 presidential election interference.

Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Georgia colleges are reverting to requiring standardized test scores for all new applicants, signaling a shift from pandemic-era policies. Beginning in fall 2026, institutions including Augusta University, The University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech will mandate SAT or ACT scores, a decision unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents.

Water-hogging data centers flagged in latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ environmental watchdog report

In its annual report released on Thursday, the Georgia Water Coalition spotlighted the detrimental effects of record economic growth on the state’s waterways, particularly in the coastal region, where a surge in state-of-the-art data centers poses a significant threat to Georgia’s rivers. The report urges urgent action from public officials and residents to advocate for policies that safeguard natural resources crucial for clean drinking water and outdoor recreation, emphasizing the need for coordinated water planning to address mounting environmental pressures.