Affordable Connectivity Program Significantly Expands Broadband Access
At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’re raising awareness about the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a valuable initiative that has expanded high-speed internet access for tens of millions of Americans.
Expanded broadband access directly supports our three focus areas: education, income and health. That’s because reliable internet enables students to succeed in school, workers to find and keep good-paying jobs, and North Texas families to access online health resources.
Unfortunately, the future of the ACP is uncertain. In this blog, we want to share two critical pieces of information:
- If you’re eligible to sign up for the ACP, the deadline to do so is Wednesday, February 7. Keep reading for more information.
- If you’re interested in supporting expanded broadband access in our community, we invite you to advocate with us in support of ACP. Read on to learn how to best voice your support.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
In 2021, Congress approved the ACP to support Americans struggling to pay for internet service. The ACP helps ensure households can afford the broadband they need for school, work, healthcare and more.
The program provides two key benefits:
- Up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands
- Up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers, if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price
The ACP is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Since the program launched, more than 20 million Americans have signed up—representing a significant expansion of high-speed internet access in our country. However, nearly 30 million people who are eligible have not signed up. Whether they are unaware of the program or simply haven’t gotten around to signing up, these Americans are leaving money on the table.
“Reliable, high-speed internet access used to be a luxury, but today it is a necessity that enables people in our community to utilize the education, financial security and healthcare tools and resources needed to thrive in our digital age,” Hillary Evans, vice president of policy and advocacy at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “The ACP is an important step toward improved digital inclusion, which is one way that we can ensure more of our North Texas neighbors can thrive.”
What is going on with the future of the program?
Unfortunately, current funding for the ACP could expire as early as April. However, a proposed bill, the Affordable Connectivity Extension Act of 2024, would provide additional funding to extend the program. The bill has been referred to Congress’ Appropriations Committee for consideration.
How do I sign up?
Visit onlineforall.org/enroll to apply right away. Remember, February 7 is the last day that the ACP will accept new applications and enrollments to receive the financial benefit until the program ends.
I’m already signed up. What happens if the program ends?
If Congress doesn’t vote to provide additional funding, the ACP will run out of money around April. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission, which coordinates the ACP, expects consumers that are enrolled in the program to continue to receive their full benefit on their internet service through at least April.
If your household is enrolled in the ACP, you should receive a notice from your internet provider in late January or February regarding your bill and possible other options. For more information, view the FCC’s FAQs about the wind-down of these ACP funds.
Voice Your Support for ACP
Supporting greater digital equity through programs like ACP is a sure-fire way to improve access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—in our community.
As one ACP client named Thelma shared, affordable internet has been life-changing for her.
“If it had not been for the ACP program, I would not have internet,” she said. “It’s in my house. I don’t have to go anywhere. If the weather’s bad outside, oh well, it doesn’t affect me. I can still plug into the internet and learn what I want to learn.”
You can voice your support for ACP by asking your representatives to pass the Affordable Connectivity Extension Act and continue funding this important program.
Here are four steps to advocate for the Affordable Connectivity Extension Act today:
- Find out who represents you using the Texas Tribune’s “Who Represents Me?” tool.
- Contact your congressional leader and ask them to co-sponsor the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act. Make sure to cite the bill number (HR 6929/S. 3565). Not sure what to say? Reference this simple talking point guide.
- Share your support for ACP on social media. Check out this advocacy social media toolkit for sample posts, and be sure to tag your congressperson so they see how important ACP is to you and your community.
- Join a coalition of nonprofits, including United Way Worldwide, in a letter to congressional leadership urging continued funding for the ACP to ensure families and children have access to affordable broadband. Add your name here.
Join Us in Supporting Access to Education, Income and Health in North Texas
By supporting initiatives like the Affordable Connectivity Program, we can all expand access to education, income and health in our community.
As healthcare, education and commerce become increasingly digital, communities need high-speed internet. We work to close the “digital divide” between communities that have adequate internet access and those that do not. The digital divide disproportionately affects people in rural areas, older adults, people of color, households with low incomes, people with disabilities, veterans and older adults.
Together, we can ensure all North Texans have the opportunity to thrive. We invite you to invest in lasting change by making a one-time or recurring donation to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas today.
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