Passage of the 2021 bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) represented a significant step forward in closing our nation’s broadband gap. The IIJA included a $65 billion investment in broadband, with the majority of funding going to states for programs to build out broadband infrastructure.
Affordable Access is Essential
Critically, the infrastructure bill also included $14.2 billion in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). As the name suggests, the ACP helps expand broadband access by enabling low-income households to afford the monthly fee for broadband service. Through the ACP, qualifying households receive a $30 monthly discount on internet service and a one-time $100 device discount.
The ACP has been an overwhelming success, with more than 22 million households enrolling in the program through November 2023. These new broadband connections translate into immeasurable benefits. The fact is, accessing the internet is fundamental for participating in our society and economy. Internet access is a tool for learning at all levels of education. It helps job seekers find employment and develop new skills. It enables people to access healthcare and other services.
The American Consumer Institute estimates that the “investment value of this program will likely yield 160,000 in new jobs and contribute $37 billion to U.S. GDP, including over $9 billion in employment earnings.” In other words, our entire economy is lifted by the ACP. It is a public investment that makes social and economic sense—and it has bipartisan support.
Congressional Action is Needed to Preserve the ACP
Despite its success, the ACP will end in the first half of 2024 unless Congress takes action to renew funding. Without the ACP, millions could lose their broadband access—and the results would be devastating. More kids would fall behind in school. Job seekers would struggle to find work. Healthcare would become less accessible for many. This shouldn’t happen.
Starting last December, Voices for Innovation members from around the country began to reach out to their members of Congress to urge them to preserve the ACP. The message is starting to resonate—and the issue is receiving increasing attention inside the Beltway (e.g., Politico, “Millions of Americans could lose internet aid months before the 2024 election”).
You can help with this effort by emailing your legislators as well. It takes just a few minutes to complete this action by following this link.