Saving the ACP: A Commitment to Connectivity

The U.S. Congress faces an imminent decision about the future of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and the connectivity it delivers to 23 million households. The Senate is convening a hearing today to consider just that. As it does so, America’s broadband providers will continue to show up every day, providing affordable high-speed internet to communities across the country. That is our enduring commitment. But we can’t do it alone.

When it comes to low-income and hard-to-reach households, policymakers have long understood that federal support is necessary to help close the digital divide.

The ACP is the federal government’s concrete commitment to ‘walk its talk’ and put real resources behind its long-stated goal of universal connectivity. Which is why in the short term, Congress needs to summon the wisdom and the courage to act now to provide immediate bridge funding to save the ACP.

For the longer term, Congress should carefully consider advancing a financially responsible, and self-sustaining solution: moving the ACP into a modernized, right-sized Universal Service Fund.

Broadband providers know how important it is to make high-speed internet access affordable. USTelecom’s Broadband Pricing Index documents some consumer-friendly trends. The 2023 index indicates broadband continues to be among the most inflation-resistant consumer services. The most recent data reveals an 18% year-over-year price drop for providers’ most popular broadband speed tier. Meanwhile, the overall cost of consumer goods and services rose by nearly 5% over a similar one-year period.

While rising grocery bills remain unsettling, affordable broadband pricing trends offer a respite—one made even more remarkable for occurring at the same time broadband providers continue to invest heavily in extending and enhancing the nation’s high-speed networks. In 2022, America’s broadband industry poured $102.4 billion into U.S. communications infrastructure. This massive investment underscores providers’ determination to do their part to achieve the national goal of making high-speed connectivity affordable and reliable for everyone.

Now, Congress has a tremendous opportunity to meet this moment by funding the ACP. Congress can also close the affordability gap by requiring Big Tech – the primary financial beneficiaries of universal connectivity – to also contribute to this shared national goal.

Universal connectivity is within our grasp. But it requires all stakeholders to join with America’s telecommunications providers and do their part. It should be the great hope of everyone who believes in this vital national goal that they will do so.

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