High-speed internet has become the backbone of our economy and communications infrastructure, which is why ensuring that everyone who lacks a connection can obtain one is essential. But a critical program at making that objective a reality, the Affordable Connectivity Program, is on the cusp of expiring within the next year if Congress does not take urgent action to extend its funding. Allowing the ACP to expire would not only threaten the connectivity of the over 20 million American households enrolled, including over 1 million in Ohio, it would also inhibit our nation’s economic growth and rural broadband expansion efforts.
The ACP has played a significant role in getting more Americans online, and with an increase in connections comes economic growth. As more households gain access to the internet, barriers to education, workforce training and workforce participation diminish. Students and employees can access online learning resources, enhancing their skill sets and future employability. Job seekers can search for opportunities beyond their immediate vicinity, tapping into a wider pool of options, and entrepreneurs can harness the power of e-commerce to start and scale businesses.
The ACP also holds particular value for rural communities that have previously lacked connectivity. Not only has the rural enrollment rate in the ACP surpassed previous expectations, but the program will also reduce the cost needed to subsidize rural broadband deployments through the upcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, ensuring these tax dollars are used to their greatest potential.
Our state is fortunate to have a Senator standing up for the program’s continuation, as Senator Vance recently signed onto a letter calling for the ACP to be preserved. Congress should follow Senator Vance’s lead and make funding this program a top priority.
East Liverpool, Ohio