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Nassau and Suffolk counties losing broadband subsidy

Nassau and Suffolk counties losing broadband subsidy

Broadband Subsidy

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More than 75,000 lower-income households in Nassau and Suffolk counties are set to lose a federal subsidy for broadband internet access this week. The subsidy, introduced in 2022 to aid pandemic recovery, provided $30 a month per household ($75 for those on qualified Indian tribal land).

The cessation of this program will impact nearly 10% of all Long Island households with broadband, based on an analysis by a Manhattan-based center that examined the recipients of these funds. “We live in a society now where reliable, high-speed internet access is the front door to nearly every opportunity that exists on Long Island today — employment, education, access to social services,” said Eli Dvorkin, policy director at the center.

“Losing that access or making home internet more expensive at a time when Long Island is reeling from an affordability crisis, is something many of the Island’s lower-income households just can’t afford.
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But they also can’t afford not to have high-speed internet at home.”

Nationwide, more than 23 million lower-income households have received free or discounted broadband access since the subsidy began in January 2022.

Long Island’s broadband affordability crisis

President Joe Biden has expressed a desire for Congress to renew the program, likening it to the New Deal-era initiative that electrified rural America.

“Our goal is to connect everyone in America to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by the year 2030,” Biden said earlier this year.

Only 43% of eligible households nationwide signed up by the time the program wound down earlier this year. Long Island’s participation rate wasn’t readily available.

See also  Affordable Connectivity Program ends due to funding

However, the subsidy reached 76,130 households on Long Island — 42,672 in Suffolk and 33,458 in Nassau counties.
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The expiration of this subsidy will pose challenges.

“Subscribers can choose to maintain their plans, but they will have to dig deeper into their own pockets to pay for it. Others may elect to downgrade their service speeds to lower their out-of-pocket costs.

And some residents will likely decide they just can’t afford home Internet without the subsidy,” Dvorkin explained.

In New York City, the number of participating households was even higher, totaling 1 million. “While both Nassau and Suffolk have significantly higher median incomes than the five counties of New York City, there are lots of pockets of poverty on Long Island,”

Dvorkin added.

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