Bridging the Digital Divide: Why Congress Must Permanently Fund the Affordable Connectivity Program

Why Congress Must Permanently Fund the Affordable Connectivity Program? In an era where the internet has become an essential part of our daily lives, it’s imperative that we address the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to affordable and reliable internet services. New York, like many other states, faces this critical issue, but the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has made significant strides in closing the gap.

The Necessity of Internet Access

Internet access is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. In a rapidly digitizing world, it’s the gateway to educational resources, job opportunities, healthcare services, and community connections. Millions of New Yorkers rely on the ACP, a federal broadband subsidy designed to support vulnerable communities in affording this essential service.

Closing the Adoption Gap

While the ACP has been successful, there’s still work to be done. Over a million eligible New Yorkers have yet to sign up for the program. City and state leaders have been actively reaching out to bridge this adoption gap, ensuring that more New Yorkers can join the digital age.

The Risk to ACP

Despite its success, the ACP is facing a significant risk. Current estimates suggest that the program, which already serves 21 million Americans, may run out of funding as early as spring 2024. This jeopardizes the crucial tool for those who need internet access the most.

The Presidential Request and Congress’s Role

The White House has taken a step in the right direction by requesting an additional $6 billion in funding for the ACP through the end of 2024. However, it’s now up to Congress to act, not only to extend funding in the short term but to make the ACP a permanent program, ensuring that it can connect New Yorkers to essential resources for generations to come.

The ACP s Enormous Impact

The ACP’s impact has been immense. It has removed the cost barrier for more than 21 million households nationwide, enabling them to access the internet. During the challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACP’s predecessor, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, played a crucial role in allowing students to attend virtual classes and parents to search for jobs from home. Now, with the ACP, underserved communities in New York can access the resources they need for education and job opportunities from the comfort of their homes.

A Prerequisite for Inclusivity

Beyond the immediate benefits, reliable high-speed internet access is a prerequisite for New York City’s tech sector to become more diverse and inclusive. The tech industry has the potential to transform lives and drive economic growth, but it must be accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of their background or neighborhood. The lack of universal access to high-speed internet could hinder the growth of the tech ecosystem by excluding potential innovators and entrepreneurs in underserved communities.

An Investment in the Future

Funding the Affordable Connectivity Program for 2024 and ensuring its permanence is not just an investment in New York City’s future, but in the nation’s future. By extending funding for the ACP, Congress can ensure that all Americans can continue to enjoy the transformative benefits of affordable and reliable internet access.

A Call to Action

As the President calls for the extension of ACP funding, it’s now Congress’s responsibility to step up and ensure that New Yorkers and Americans across the country can benefit from affordable and reliable internet access. We encourage New York’s Congressional delegation, as well as their colleagues nationwide, to advocate for a permanent ACP. This will not only create a more connected and inclusive New York but set an example for the entire nation. Bridging the digital divide is not just a matter of convenience; it’s a matter of equity and progress.

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