Federal Agency

Half of ACP-Eligible Households Still Unaware of the Program

After a year of operation, half of all households eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) internet subsidy are unaware of the benefit. A January 2023 survey of low-income households finds that over 50% say they have never heard of the program or do not know anything about it. Although many eligible households are unaware of ACP, the survey points to ways in which policymakers and community leaders can encourage enrollment. First, outreach can make a difference.

Understanding and Driving Enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program

Fitting the monthly cost of a broadband subscription into a low-income household budget is difficult, to say the least, because of the costs of competing necessities like lodging, food, and healthcare. These financial pressures—and unexpected expenses—keep too many people in the U.S. from subscribing to home broadband service—or cause them to drop service at times to make ends meet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress recognized these obstacles for low-income people and created a program—first called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program—to reduce the monthly costs of connectivity.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Utah to Receive Nearly $1 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funds to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

The Department of Treasury approved broadband projects in an additional six states under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Utah. Together, these states will use their funding to connect more than 180,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.

It’s No Time to Disarm in the War Against the Digital Divide

The pandemic spurred policymakers and community leaders around the country to create programs to connect those without home broadband service or computers. These programs have had an impact. New government data show sharp increases in broadband and computer adoption in the 2019-to-2021 time frame. Initiatives such as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) have helped address “subscription vulnerability” for low-income households. With progress evident, it is time to extend and build on the ACP and local affordability programs.

FCC Releases New National Broadband Maps

The Federal Communications Commission released a pre-production draft of its new National Broadband Map. The map will display specific location-level information about broadband services available throughout the country – a significant step forward from the census block level data previously collected. This release of the draft map kicks off the public challenge processes that will play a critical role in improving the accuracy of the map.

Reaction to USF Decision

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, “I’m pleased that the Fifth Circuit agreed with what I and many others—including bipartisan members of Congress—have said about the Universal Service Fund. It is constitutional, both in concept and implementation. The Universal Service Fund continues to connect rural communities, schools, libraries, healthcare providers, and low-income households all across the country.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $25.7 Million in High-Speed Internet Grants to Tribal Lands in Minnesota and New Mexico

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded two grants totaling more than $25.7 million to two Tribal nations—The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota and the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico—as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).

Mid-Band Spectrum Update

This white paper provides an overview of current and potential new mid-band and extended mid-band spectrum availability in the United States over the next several years, including technical characteristics and challenges, as well as policy and regulatory landscape. The realization of new bands in these spectrum ranges depends on several developments, including studies and solutions for coexistence with incumbent services. There are currently no bands in the spectrum pipeline in the US.

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Salutes 'Ringing Ratification' of USF

Coming from one of the more conservative courts in the country, this decision is a ringing ratification of the system Congress established to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to telecommunications service and advanced services like broadband. This should not come as a surprise, but once the USF was subjected to a legal challenge, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society joined with public allies to defend this critical mechanism for ensuring universal broadband.

FCC dodges disaster as court approves handling of broadband subsidies

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the decades-old funding mechanisms governing Federal Communications Commission subsidies, a decision that assures the delivery of billions of dollars in broadband aid across a variety of government programs. The FCC, for more than a quarter-century, has operated this pot of subsidies known as the Universal Service Fund, amounting to roughly $9 billion annually.