FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel informed congressional appropriators the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will no longer accept new enrollments as of Thursday, February 8. To make clear the real-world impacts if Congress does not renew funding for the broadband affordability program, the Chairwoman shared enrollment data for every state, territory and Congressional district.
Nearly 23 million low-income households rely on the ACP to afford monthly broadband service. ACP funding is currently expected to last through April with only partial support available in May 2024. A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have introduced the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, which, if adopted, would provide an additional $7 billion for the ACP, Inside Towers reported.
“The bipartisan Infrastructure Law created the [ACP,] our largest-ever effort to make broadband affordable nationwide, but we now are on the brink of letting that success slip away,” said Rosenworcel. “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.”
Under the FCC’s wind-down procedures, an outreach effort is already underway to tell ACP households about the potential loss of the benefit. Broadband providers were required to send an initial notice to all of their ACP subscribers to preview the possible end of the program and the impact on the households’ broadband bills once the benefit is no longer available.
After the Commission announces the official final month of ACP funding, providers must send at least two more notices to households. They must tell consumers the program is ending, how and when the end will impact their bill, and that they may opt-out of continuing service or change their service.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief