White House Requests Funds to Extend Affordable Connectivity Program
The White House recently made a formal request to Congress for $6 billion to extend the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers free or discounted high-speed internet to qualifying households. It provides a monthly internet discount of $30 for low-income households and $75 for residents of Tribal lands, more than 20 million households in total. Participants can also get a one-time $100 device subsidy. The program is in danger of running out of money next year.
The new funding proposal from the Biden administration is part of a $56 billion supplemental domestic budget request for “critical domestic priorities,” including childcare, disaster relief, and energy independence. Regarding the ACP, the administration called for “additional funds to strengthen the program by extending free and discounted high-speed internet for eligible households through December 2024.” The ACP was authorized and initially funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021.
The request from the Biden administration joins repeated calls for Congress to renew the program. Lawmakers have underscored the importance of the program for closing the digital divide. A group of 32 senators recently signed onto a letter to Senate leaders urging an extension of the ACP. The letter highlighted the fact that the program provides over “21 million working families with financial assistance for broadband access” and continued funding was needed “to help bridge the digital divide so they can continue to afford the broadband services they need for work, school, health care, and more.”