The Single Most Impactful Affordability Asset Currently Available to Utahns is the ACP

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Digital Beat

The Single Most Impactful Affordability Asset Currently Available to Utahns is the ACP

States are banking on the ACP to ensure broadband is affordable for their low-income residents, but the future of the program remains uncertain. This week we are spotlighting the role ACP plays in states’ digital equity plans to achieve universal broadband.

Hundreds of thousands of Utah residents face barriers to accessing the Information Age. Sixteen percent of people in the state have incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Many need affordable internet service choices and useful devices to access the internet. And the single most impactful affordability asset currently available to Utahns is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Unfortunately, the ACP is underutilized in Utah with only 65,000 households currently enrolled. That is only 15 percent of eligible households, less than half of the national average.

Utah's Digital Equity Vision

Utah's draft State Digital Equity Plan relies heavily on the ACP as a tool to ensure more low-income Utahns can afford broadband service. The Utah Broadband Center adopted the goal of ensuring affordable connectivity for every Utah resident—and plans to coordinate with broadband service providers and other stakeholders to increase ACP enrollment in the state.

Utah's Vision: To realize a Utah where all are invited to fully participate in modern society through access to affordable high-speed internet, safe and reliable devices, and training to achieve digital independence.

The center proposes to work with ISPs to create a uniform, streamlined application process for low-income households to enroll in affordable internet plans and establish a central method for individual residents to share their experiences and their thoughts about the ACP and ISP enrollment processes.

ACP provides eligible households in Utah with up to $30 per month toward internet service and up to $100 to purchase a computer or laptop from participating providers. 

The draft equity plan also sets a goal of increasing the availability of reliable devices statewide. The Utah Broadband Center is also looking at ACP to help reach this goal through the program's subsidy for connected devices.

The Utah Broadband Center is aiming to increase ACP enrollment, reaching a target of 80,000 enrolled households within two years. Within five years, the center is aiming at having 50 percent of all of the state's eligible households in Utah enrolled in the ACP.

But Utah's plan for affordable broadband and digital independence is at risk because funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program is dwindling. Estimates predict the ACP will run out of money in mid-2024, years before Utah reaches its goals of closing the digital divide. If Congress does not allocate additional funding soon, internet service providers will begin in early 2024 to inform ACP subscribers that the program is ending. And the more than 65,000 households currently relying on the program will be at risk of losing service.

In this series:

Louisiana is Depending on the ACP to Eliminate the Digital Divide

ACP Key to Montana's Digital Opportunity Plan

The Single Most Impactful Affordability Asset Currently Available to Utahns is the ACP

West Virginia's Vision for Digital Plan Depends on the Affordable Connectivity Program

Wyoming Relying on ACP for Affordable Broadband

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.

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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

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