Biden’s ACP Funding Request for Affordable Connectivity: In a significant move aimed at bridging the digital divide and ensuring that Americans have continued access to affordable high-speed internet, the Biden Administration has called on Congress to provide supplementary funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This request, made by the White House, has garnered widespread approval from leaders in the telecommunications industry.
ACP Funding Extension Proposal
The announcement came on October 25th, when the Biden Administration proposed additional funding to extend free and discounted high-speed internet services for eligible households through December 2024 via the ACP.
The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA), a leading voice in the telecommunications sector, was quick to express its support for this funding request. The NTCA has actively participated in the Affordable Connectivity Program, recognizing its pivotal role in making broadband services affordable for countless Americans. Shirley Bloomfield, the CEO of NTCA, commended the Biden Administration for recognizing the need for supplementary funding to prolong the ACP’s effectiveness.
Bloomfield stated, “We hope that this program that enjoys such widespread support will continue to play an important role in keeping Americans connected.”
This supplemental funding request from President Biden was prompted by a letter from Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), a ranking member on the communications and technology subcommittee. In her letter to the administration, Matsui expressed concerns that the ACP would expire in early 2024 without additional funding. She highlighted the potential consequences of such an expiration, stating that it could undo years of progress in closing the digital divide.
The White House emphasized that the ACP, enacted under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, has already made a substantial impact. It is estimated to have helped over 21 million households save over $500 million per month on their internet bills.
Angela Siefer, the executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), echoed the sentiment of support for the president’s $6 billion funding request for the ACP. According to Siefer, the NDIA, along with librarians, digital navigators, and nonprofit leaders from 1,500 organizations nationwide, celebrates the White House’s commitment to providing internet access for all.
President’s Call to Action
President Biden’s funding request includes allocations for additional defense spending and disaster relief. By making this request, he is urging Congress to prioritize these essential funding initiatives. To facilitate the funding, the White House has proposed allocating it as an emergency request under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
In a statement, President Biden emphasized the importance of these priorities and urged Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead. The ACP’s extension is viewed as a critical step in ensuring that affordable high-speed internet remains accessible to all Americans, further closing the digital divide and promoting digital inclusion.