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Congress Must Act to Prevent Expiration of Broadband Subsidy Program Used by Millions

President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of affordability in his plan to bring internet access to every household and business in the United States by 2030. However, a crucial federal program aimed at reducing broadband costs for low-income households is set to expire next year.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has not been fully utilized, with less than 40% of eligible households taking advantage of its monthly subsidies ranging from $30 to $75 to help cover internet expenses. Despite this, the program has been a lifeline for individuals like Kimberlyn Barton-Reyes, who is paraplegic and visually impaired. Thanks to the ACP, she can afford an internet connection that enables her to participate in a vocational program and utilize remote assistance for her electric wheelchair.

However, the future of the program is uncertain. Its main source of funding, a $14.2 billion allocation, is projected to run out by mid-2024, potentially leaving millions without affordable broadband access and hindering the Biden administration’s efforts to connect those in need.

Advocacy groups are urging Congress to extend the program, highlighting its success and untapped potential. Enrollment in many states falls below the national average, indicating the need for increased outreach and accessibility.

Allowing the program to expire could strain the already fragile relationship between consumers and internet service providers, undermining the nation’s goal of closing the digital divide. This could make it harder for individuals to afford service and decrease the likelihood of ISPs investing in expanding connectivity.

Fortunately, there is bipartisan support for the program, with lawmakers from both parties and the White House recognizing the importance of affordable internet access. It remains crucial for Congress to take action and ensure the continuation of the ACP to provide equitable broadband access to all Americans.

[Unique Perspective: As technology continues to advance and internet connectivity becomes increasingly essential in all aspects of life, it is crucial that we prioritize access for all individuals, regardless of income or location. The Affordable Connectivity Program has played a significant role in bridging the digital divide, but its potential impact can be further maximized with continued support and expansion. Congress must recognize the long-term benefits of affordable internet access and take proactive measures to ensure its availability for millions of Americans.]
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