Federal Affordable Connectivity Program Needs More Funding

Research and analysis on the subsidy’s vital role in achieving universal high-speed internet access

Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Editor’s note: This page was updated on Oct. 2, 2023, to reflect the latest ACP enrollment data.

Broadband is an essential service for American families and businesses. Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has taken aggressive action to ensure that every household not only has access to high-speed internet but also can afford it. Congress established the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in 2021 to provide monthly subsidies of $30 ($75 in Tribal and high-cost rural areas) to help low-income households, Pell Grant scholars, people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid benefits, and other eligible Americans pay their broadband bills.

And with more than 20 million households enrolled across the country, the program has been one of the nation’s most effective tools to help families afford and maintain home internet subscriptions. But despite this success—along with bipartisan congressional support and the backing of 78% of voters—ACP is at risk of running out of funds by the spring of 2024, putting millions of Americans’ internet access in jeopardy.

Without ACP subsidies—which help customers afford broadband but do not cover the full cost—participating families would be unable to stay connected to work, school, and health care. And internet service providers that have enjoyed increased customer bases, decreased customer turnover, and more stable revenue could see those benefits fade.

The research and analysis collected here delve into the ways in which ACP safeguards other federal and state broadband investments, highlighting its importance to the nation’s comprehensive efforts to close the digital divide.

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