Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

The Benton Institute ACP Performance Tool

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is at an inflection point. Launched in early 2022, ACP provides 17 million households up to $30/month in subsidies to offset the cost of broadband. But the program faces two critical challenges. First, less than a third of eligible households currently participate in the program—mainly because the people who could benefit most from the subsidy are unaware that it exists. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), local governments, and digital equity groups are stepping up efforts to improve ACP awareness and participation.

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.

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.

Broadband Mapping By and For Communities

On Monday, September 26, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Director of Research and Fellowships Dr. Revati Prasad hosted an online panel discussion, From the Ground Up: Broadband Mapping By and for Communities, on how communities and states are collecting data on local broadband availability as the Federal Communications Commission rolls out the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) program.

FCC Announces Additional Funding Opportunities for Outreach Grants to Raise Nationwide Awareness of Affordable Connectivity Program

The Federal Communications Commission announced details for additional outreach grant opportunities to promote the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The outreach grants seek to enlist targeted trusted community messengers to develop innovative outreach strategies to reach historically unserved and underserved communities.

Governor Walz (D-MN) Signs Broadband Bill Into Law

Governor Tim Walz (D-MN) signed a broadband bill into law. The legislation includes a $100 million investment to expand high-speed broadband to help achieve the state’s goal of ensuring everyone has access to high-speed broadband across the state. This investment will supplement federal funding allocated to Minnesota under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Louisiana releases BEAD proposal draft, digital equity plan

As states prepare to receive their allocations from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, Louisiana is putting the finishing touches on its plan to put that money to work. The state’s broadband office released the first volume of its BEAD proposal, outlining Louisiana’s current efforts to deploy broadband, a breakdown of unserved and underserved locations as well as how it plans to tackle the challenge process.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $4.5 Million in Internet for All Grants to Tribal Lands

 The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded grants totaling $4.5 million to 9 Tribes as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These grants will help reduce monthly Internet service costs, plan for future Internet infrastructure investments, upgrade network equipment, and purchase devices.