Bridgeport, CT— This week, Representative Jim Himes (CT-04) joined leaders from the public and private sector at Bridgeport’s Public Library to announce the launch of the Affordable Connectivity Program. This new federal benefit provides financial assistance for those who are struggling to pay their bills, ensuring they remain connected to the internet.
“The pandemic highlighted that broadband access is no longer a nice-to-have. It is a must-have,” said Himes. “That means that public servants and private service providers must come together to make sure every American family has access to the internet. While much of the historic infrastructure package will take years to materialize, this subsidy is available right now for families in Fairfield County. Let’s make sure to spread the word.”
“The digital divide and lack of equitable connectivity were prevalent in Bridgeport and other working class communities long before the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend our national leadership and specifically Congressman Himes for prioritizing investments to broadband infrastructure, which will finally allow families, students, and small businesses access to affordable and reliable internet services. I encourage all Bridgeport residents to see how they can benefit from this important program,” stated Bridgeport Mayor Ganim.
“We learned early on in the pandemic that almost half of our students did not have access to a device or WiFi connectivity,” said Superintendent Michael Testani of the Bridgeport Public Schools. “Over the last year we’ve worked to close the digital divide and provide students with devices, but without this key piece of digital infrastructure those devices are useless. I’m very grateful that this bill will expand the availability of WiFi, which will help expand access to teaching, learning and exploration.”
“Optimum is super excited to be here because we all share the same collective goal; to connect all homes and businesses with broadband,” said Jen Ostrager, Vice President of Community Affairs at Optimum. “Connecticut has always been at the forefront of public and private partnerships. Customers are eligible to use this $30 subsidy on any package, including our $29.99 offer. So effectively, a qualifying household could get internet access at no charge.”
“We are proud to be here to celebrate the passage of the infrastructure package,” said Michael Cicchetti, Vice President of Government and External Affairs at Frontier. “We look forward to working with officials at the local, state and federal level to bring rural and urban residents the connectivity they need to participate in a modern society.”
“The Affordable Connectivity Program allows students to connect to classrooms, individuals to work remotely and connects all of us to family, friends, telehealth services and critical resources,” said Eduard Bartholme, Associate Bureau Chief at the Federal Communication Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. “This is not a direct to consumer benefit — it’s a discount that comes off your bill. Those who are interested in signing up can learn how to do so by calling a toll-free number, 877-384-2575.”
A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline
- Participates in Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian A airs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program
27,000 Connecticut residents currently lack access to the internet. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, 654,000 or 18.7% of people in Connecticut will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit.
This press release was made possible by: