Broadband Affordability Program Faces Funding Crisis, Threatening Internet Access: FCC

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a pivotal initiative aimed at ensuring affordable broadband connectivity for low-income households in the United States, is on the brink of discontinuation as funding is anticipated to exhaust by April 2024, warns the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
broadband internet connection usersIn the absence of further Congressional appropriations, the FCC alerts that the Internet program will cease to operate entirely by May, endangering the internet access of nearly 23 million households nationwide.

The FCC has issued an official Order outlining the phased shutdown of the ACP, with a halt on new enrollments scheduled for February 7, 2024. To provide affected subscribers with advance notice, broadband providers are mandated to dispatch an initial advisory by January 25, elucidating the potential termination of the ACP and the resultant impact on broadband bills for households once the program’s benefits are no longer accessible.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel expressed her concern, stating, “We have successfully connected millions upon millions of households to broadband services. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established a historic and unquestionably successful program to make broadband affordable, and we now appear on the brink of letting that success slip away. Disconnecting millions of families from their jobs, schools, markets, and information is not the solution. We have come too far with the ACP to turn back.”

In response to the looming crisis, the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act was introduced in Congress yesterday, proposing a $7 billion allocation to sustain the ACP. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel welcomed the legislation, acknowledging the bipartisan leadership and emphasizing the need to maintain the progress achieved through the program.

As it stands, ACP funding is projected to last only until April 2024, with limited support available in May. Following the FCC’s announcement of the official termination month for ACP funding, providers are obligated to dispatch at least two additional notices to households, detailing the conclusion of the ACP, its impact on bills, and offering the option to opt-out of continuing service or make adjustments.

The ACP, hailed as the largest and most successful broadband affordability program in the nation’s history, supports nearly 23 million households across rural, suburban, and urban America. These households rely on the ACP to afford high-speed internet services for various crucial needs such as education, work, healthcare, and more.

The program specifically aids eligible low-income households grappling with the financial challenges of monthly broadband expenses. The imminent threat of its discontinuation underscores the potential jeopardy to the connectivity of millions of Americans, FCC said.