March 7, 2024

FCC Commissioners Reiterate Call for Affordable Connectivity Program Funding

During the ACA Connects’ #Summit2024, FCC Commissioners Anna Gomez and Geoffrey Starks touted the positive impact that the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has had in extending broadband service to previously unconnected households.

More than 300 ACA Connects members participate in the ACP, which provides a monthly discount of up to $30 for eligible households to access internet service. The program currently serves more than 23 million low-income households, but absent funding, the last funded month of ACP benefits will be April.

“I am very very concerned about the end of ACP and its effect on consumers,” said Gomez. “Broadband connectivity is a must have to participate in our digital economy. I worry about our competiveness as a country if we let that many households go unconnected.”

ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer and ACA Connects Chair Patricia Jo Boyers also expressed their support of ACP.

Gomez also highlighted the broader economic impacts and the breach of trust from letting ACP lapse. “It’s tragic for the families, but we need to keep in mind the sustainability of networks in really hard-to-reach areas,” Gomez warned. She worried that without the subsidy providers might not have sufficient customers to support anticipated new networks. “I also worry about take up by the providers [if ACP expires],” Gomez added.

In his remarks to the 200 ACA Connects members attending #Summit2024, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks touted the ACP’s benefits.

“ACP is the most effective program we’ve had in helping low-income Americans get online and stay online,” Starks said, adding that the program is making a real difference in many communities historically underserved.

“Data shows that approximately 50% of households participating in ACP are Black and Latino. Over 329,000 Tribal households have enrolled as well,” Starks explained. He also noted that four million seniors participate and that half of the households benefitting are military families.

Although the FCC has started winding down ACP, Starks said there are reasons for hope. He noted that President Biden has urged Congress to fund the program. In addition, there is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to fund ACP though the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act. Nearly 400 leaders have endorsed the act. At the local level, 26 bipartisan governors and 174 mayors have urged Congress to fund ACP. Starks told ACA Connects members to make sure Congress hears this message.

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