In a significant move for the telecommunications sector, the White House has recently made an appeal to Congress, calling for further funding to amplify the impact of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP, a program designed to provision free and low-cost high-speed internet to households that are eligible, has garnered praise from industry influencers for its potential to increase digital inclusivity.

On October 25, the Biden Administration put forth this funding request, which aims to extend the ACP, allowing the program to continue to provide free and discounted internet until December 2024. The commendation this appeal has received serves as a testament to its potential benefits. The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) voiced its support for the funding request, recognizing the role the ACP has in making connectivity services more economically accessible. “NTCA members have been active participants in the Affordable Connectivity Program, and a number of their customers rely upon the support this program provides to pay for broadband services month after month”, Shirley Bloomfield, the NTCA’s CEO, expressed in a statement.

Echoing Bloomfield’s remarks, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), a well-regarded member of the communications and technology subcommittee, affirmed the importance of the ACP in bridging the digital divide. Matsui, apprehensive about the ACP’s expiration in 2024 without further funding, pressed on the importance of the continuous efforts to bridge the digital gap. She wrote, “If this vital program were even to briefly lapse, it would undo years of progress closing the digital divide.”

The White House highlights that thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP has already enabled more than 21 million households to save a total of over $500 million every month on their internet bills. Corroborating these sentiments, Angela Siefer, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s (NDIA) Executive Director, also extended her praise towards the President’s funding request of $6 billion for the ACP.

The request includes funding for other pivotal sectors as well, such as defense spending and disaster relief. President Biden himself encourages Congress to heed this request, suggesting that the funds be allocated as an emergency request under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. The President reemphasizes the importance of this request, urging, “The world is watching and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities… I urge Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.”

In conclusion, the Biden Administration’s request to fund the ACP has been positively received in the telecommunications sector, underscoring the importance of such initiatives in fostering digital inclusion and connectivity. As the administration gears up to continue its efforts to bridge the digital divide, it’s clear that the ACP has crucial roles to play in the journey ahead.