Affordable Connectivity Program to expire soon

Affordable Connectivity Program to expire soon

Connectivity Expire

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal initiative that provided monthly internet discounts to low-income households, is set to expire on June 1, 2024. The program, which served nearly 23 million households nationwide, offered $30 to $75 monthly subsidies for internet service to eligible families. Despite widespread public support and advocacy efforts, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives has not approved a measure to continue funding the program. Lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement on eligibility requirements and fraud prevention measures. The expiration of the ACP is expected to have varying impacts on internet service providers. Frontier Communications, a major broadband provider, anticipates minor effects in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

CFO Scott Beasley stated that only four percent of Frontier’s broadband customers, approximately 119,000 households, are enrolled in the program.

Internet access at risk

To retain customers affected by the ACP’s sunset, Frontier is piloting a cheaper 200 Mbps plan across parts of its service area. The company sees the situation as an opportunity to attract new customers and plans to stay focused on the issue.

Some smaller internet service providers and T-Mobile properties have pledged to temporarily cover the costs for ACP customers, hoping that Congress will eventually renew funding for the program. The Biden administration had relied on the ACP to create a stable subscriber base for new rural infrastructure funded by its $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program. A group of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress has been working on legislation that would incorporate the ACP into the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, which currently spends around $8 billion annually on voice and broadband subsidies. However, finding a sustainable revenue source for the fund remains a challenge.

The expiration of the ACP is expected to force millions of households on tight budgets to choose between internet access and other essential services. Advocates warn that failure to fund the program could jeopardize the historic $42 billion infrastructure investment intended to provide all Americans with access to broadband.

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