by Lee Burnett
Photo: Lee Perkins
If your household earns less than $60,000, you may well be eligible for a subsidy on your monthly internet bill, according to Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC).
The planning agency and York County Community Action Corp are encouraging lower income residents to apply for reduced-price internet service available through Maine’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The federally funded program provides discounts of up to $30 per month on broadband services and also provides a one-time $100 discount on an internet-capable device with participating ISPs.
“We’re asking everyone to … spread the word to anyone they know who could benefit from the ACP subsidy,” says James Rather, director of strategic initiatives for SMPDC. “Internet access is now a critical part of civic engagement, employment, and access to essential services, such as telehealth and education.”
To date, the ACP program has successfully enrolled approximately 84,000 households statewide out of the nearly 240,000 eligible.
Public libraries are positioned to provide support to local residents as the program rolls out, according to Lee Perkins, director of Rice Public Library in Kittery, where WiFi is available as it is at most libraries.
“Unlike all other types of our country’s infrastructure, such as roads, water, and sewer, the backbone of our digital infrastructure is owned by private companies. The pathway to digital equity will be universal access to high capacity broadband, which must become non-negotiable,” said Perkins.
Eligibility criteria for ACP enrollment includes a maximum household income of $60,000 for a household of four. For qualifying households, the subsidy could bring the cost of monthly internet down to as low as $19.99 per month, depending on which internet service provider is used.
Visit www.getinternet.gov to sign up for the ACP program directly. York County residents interested in enrolling can also get one-on-one support with the enrollment process from staff at the York County Community Action Corporation by calling 207-977-4096.