Reform the ACP

On May 2, the Senate will hold a hearing on “The Future of Broadband Affordability.” The Affordability Connectivity Program (ACP) that provides subsidies for more than 20 million low-income households will expire in May. Without the extension, these families will see the cost of the internet service increase by up to $30 per month and prompt some families to drop internet service altogether. Congress should take action to ensure affordable internet access but can make the ACP much more cost-effective. Let us explain. Most leading internet service providers (ISPs) responded to the ACP by creating $30 service plans that provide ACP households access to high-speed internet services without paying monthly fees. Prior to the ACP, ISPs offered low-priced service plans to qualifying low-income households without government subsidy. ISPs that had low-income programs prior to the ACP increased their profits by moving customers from unsubsidized plans to the subsidized ACP plan. Reducing the subsidy from $30 to as low as $10, and allowing ACP participants to select low-priced service plans with 25 or 50 Mbps would keep most ACP households connected to the internet. Congress can keep broadband affordable and save the government money by adjusting and extending the ACP.