top of page

Apr 30, 2024

Without more funding, nearly 100,000 Maine households will soon lose a federal internet subsidy

Nearly 100,000 Mainers are expected to lose a federal internet subsidy beginning next month.

For the past three years, the Affordable Connectivity Program has provided at least $30 a month to millions of low-income households across the U.S.. But due to a lack of continued funding from Congress, the last full subsidy was issued in April, with only a potential partial discount available for some customers in May.

Jessica Perez, the digital equity manager for the Maine Connectivity Authority, said the loss of funding will affect about 98,000 households across Maine, including many who subscribed to internet service for the first time using the internet subsidy.

"That matters, not just for them, but also because of our rural nature. It's a big investment to build the infrastructure in rural areas. And so those new subscribers are really critical to sustaining that investment," Perez said.

"There's a good possibility that some of those folks are no longer able to have an internet plan, or will have to opt for service that doesn't really meet their family's needs," Perez added.

The MCA has included affordability as a goal as it builds out broadband internet across the state. But Perez said the state will be unable to replace the federal program, which provided about $3 million in subsidies to Mainers each month.

"And so in terms of having another benefit like that, it's most likely going to take Congressional funding to reach a solution," Perez said.

Perez notes that the state will receive more than $270 million from the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to help build out broadband, and it will require service providers who receive those funds to provide low-income and middle class affordability options to subscribers. Perez encourages those losing the subsidy to consider the federal Lifeline internet subsidy program, or to seek other internet providers with lower rates.

bottom of page