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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

A million island families stand to attain high-speed internet access thanks to federal allocation

By The Star Staff

A federal allocation of $740,000 to the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Subsidy Program (ACP) will allow some one million eligible families to have high-speed internet, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced over the weekend.

The approval of additional funds from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) comes after Puerto Rico became the fifth jurisdiction in the United States to administer the funds available for the ACP program favorably.

“As part of the public policy of my administration, one of the priorities is the technology and the digitization of government services, as well as that every citizen on the island has access to high-speed internet,” the governor said in written remarks. “This translates into more people being able to quickly and securely access the internet, performing multiple tasks, with better technology, which at the end of the day results in savings in infrastructure, time, and better quality of life.”

Assistant Secretary of Government Innovation, Information, Data and Technology Enrique Völckers Nin, who also is the executive director of the broadband program, said “the main mission is to facilitate promotion and knowledge so that more eligible people can benefit from the Affordable Connectivity Program, through which the FCC subsidizes families and individuals to pay for high-speed internet services so that they can access their work, education, health services, among other services.”

Völckers Nin highlighted the importance of the allocation to close the high-speed internet accessibility gap in the island’s 78 municipalities.

For the assignment, Puerto Rico was measured against other states, cities, universities, nonprofit organizations and community institutions in the United States. As detailed by the FCC when announcing the selected proposals, 350 applications for subsidies for developing high-speed internet projects were evaluated.

The proposals were evaluated through a process that included merit reviews in determining the project quality, activities and budget, and risk reviews to ascertain an applicant’s fiscal stability, including the quality of management systems, grant performance history, and audit reports and findings.

In total, the FCC assigned some $66 million for the project, including that achieved by Puerto Rico. With the budget allocation, the federal agency seeks to recruit partners or collaborators to serve as reliable messengers among citizens to implement innovative strategies that allow them to access high-speed internet.

The Puerto Rico government presented its proposal through the Office of Management and Budget, which manages the funds.

Völckers Nin urged Puerto Rico residents who still do not have a subsidy to pay their internet bills to visit the official White House website and complete the eligibility form for ACP through Information is available in Spanish and English.

“Puerto Rico is the fifth jurisdiction in the United States with the highest use of the Affordable Connectivity Reach Subsidy Program,” Pierluisi said. “However, we have not yet reached half of those who could benefit on the island. With this subsidy, we can impact more than a million families that qualify for this aid.”

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