Millions in CA could lose internet access at the end of this month: Here's who it will impact most

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Millions in CA could lose internet access at the end of this month
Funding for the federal government's Affordable Connectivity Program connecting people to the internet is set to run out at the end of April.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The federal government's Affordable Connectivity Program has helped connect millions of people to the internet for the past three years.

Funding for the program is set to run out at the end of April.

The subsidies it provides to low-income households could disappear.

"The program should not go away. The program should stay and there are thousands of reasons to keep it," said Ahmed Banafa.

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President Joe Biden announced internet providers including Comcast and Verizon will offer a discount for low-income households.

Banafa is a professor and technology expert at San Jose State University.

He says having internet access is critical to being able to function in society.

Of the millions of Californians that could be impacted, students might face one of the biggest burdens.

At Oakland Unified School District, officials tell us they've benefitted greatly from this program.

"We went from 12% of our kids having access at home to 98%. And a big part of that was the ACP," said John Sasaki.

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With the coronavirus pandemic keeping schools closed, more families in San Francisco received laptops Wednesday as the school district hopes to begin online learning on Monday.

Sasaki is a spokesperson for the district.

He tells ABC7 News, the program was critical to allowing OUSD students access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of those students, was senior Allen Clayborn.

"At home sometimes, the internet isn't the best and it only works in certain spaces. So when I received the hotspot from the school it was useful because I was able to complete my work in places where I may not have been able to prior," Clayborn said.

Without the ACP, Sasaki worries students' ability to connect to the internet outside the classroom will suffer.

"A computer, internet access, all that is just the same kind of tool as having a book, having paper, having a pencil. You really can't access your education fully unless you have the ability to get on the internet," he said.

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It's been more than a month since public school districts in the Bay Area opted to return to online classes and educators and parents are starting to recognize the negative consequences of distance learning.

Banafa says this program is worth the money for all of us.

"I think this is an investment in the future. Because now, you are opening the door for everybody, whether they have money or not so that they have access to this kind of education."

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