Will ending the Affordable Broadband Connectivity Program (ACP) halt digital equity?

Nicol Turner Lee, Colin Rhinesmith, and
Colin Rhinesmith Founder and Director, Digital Equity Research Center - Digital Equity Research Center at Metropolitan New York Library Council
Fallon Wilson
Fallon Wilson
Fallon Wilson Vice President - Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council (MMTC), Director - Black Churches for Digital Equity

February 26, 2024

  • Potential ACP elimination raises concerns about hindering efforts to narrow the digital divide, risking setbacks in ensuring equitable digital resource access.
  • Affordable broadband is a cornerstone for socio-economic development, innovation, and equal opportunities, necessitating informed decision-making.
A splice can that contains 432 fiber cables is pictured in Oldham county, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Amira Karaoud/File Photo
A splice that contains 432 fiber cables is pictured in Oldham county, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Amira Karaoud/File Photo

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has helped to provision high-speed broadband service to over 23 million households since its inception as part of the Biden-Harris infrastructure spending bill. Yet, without additional funding, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has frozen new enrollments earlier in February and has begun the process of de-enrolling these same millions of subscribers. The potential elimination of the ACP raises concerns about the immediate and long term consequences on ongoing efforts to narrow the digital divide. In particular, questions should arise around whether the elimination of the the program could disrupt the current momentum around efforts to close the digital divide, which would leave vulnerable communities without financial support on their monthly broadband services. The abrupt elimination of the ACP also raises questions about the broader strategy for online access in the U.S., and how the entire ecosystem may lose without sufficient demand for existing and evolving broadband networks.

In this episode of the TechTank Podcast, co-host Dr. Nicol Turner Lee discusses the future of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and its impact on bridging the digital divide. Experts Colin Rhinesmith, founder and director of the Digital Equity Research Center, and Fallon Wilson, vice president of the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) and director of Black Churches for Digital Equity, join the conversation. Together, they discuss the complexities surrounding the fate of ACP and examine its potential ramifications individuals and their communities. Tune in for this crucial discussion, only on the TechTank Podcast.

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