Federal program offers discounted internet services to Lowcountry residents

The Charleston Library is working to educate people about the program and help them get set up for it.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 9:02 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 11:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Internet access is a major topic across the country, but as more lines are laid, officials say affordability and literacy become the next challenges. Charleston leaders are working to get people set up with the aid they need through the Affordable Connectivity Program.

The federal program helps people pay for internet service and devices. The Charleston Library is working to educate people about the program and help them get set up for it.

City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says between the cost of housing, transportation and other utilities, people who live on good quality internet lines aren’t always connected.

“This is about affordability also, so there are folks out there who may not be able to afford that fancy internet service that fancy internet service that the good providers provide. And this closes that gap,” Tecklenburg says.

People who are already part of a government program like SNAP, Medicaid, housing vouchers or have a veteran pension immediately qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The program offers up to $30 a month toward an internet bill, and a onetime $100 discount on device. You can also qualify based on the income chart.

Angela Craig is the Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library. She says while they are happy to be a source of access and technology at the library buildings, they also want people to have the means to achieve a connection at home. She also stressed the importance of device accessibility.

“We found out and when the pandemic shut us down and we couldn’t have people in our buildings, that if you did not have a device, it didn’t matter how long we had the Wi-Fi on, 24/7, if you didn’t have a device, you were shut out,” Criag says.

In addition to offering help with the Affordable Connectivity Program application, library staff can help people learn to use their new tools.

CEO of Palmetto Care Connections Kathy Schwarting says their digital literacy efforts are another big piece of the puzzle to internet access.

“We need to make sure that people actually know how to use a device, know how to use the internet safely,” Schwarting says.

To learn more about the program, click here.