Affordable broadband at risk for Lowndes households

Published 8:29 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel penned a notice to Congress delivering formal news that the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will cease acceptance of new enrollments in one week. The notice highlighted the impacts on constituents, in every state and American territory, who benefit from the program that offsets the cost of affordable broadband service for more than 410,156 Alabama households.

Program funding is expected to continue through April and to provide partial support in May. A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives introduced an Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act which would provide an additional $7 billion for the program.

Congressional Representative for District 7, Terri Sewell, said she is a fervent supporter of the Affordable Connectivity Program in which nearly one in five Alabama households are enrolled. She is also a supporter of H.R. 6929, the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act.

Email newsletter signup

“Since we created the Affordable Connectivity Program in 2021, we have been able to successfully expand access to affordable, high-speed internet for more than 400,000 Alabama families including many in the Black Belt,” Sewell said. “To let this program run out of funding would be disastrous and could mean higher internet costs for one in five Alabama households. That is simply unacceptable. Alabama families want us to lower their costs, not raise them. Congress needs to quickly pass the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act and send it to the President’s desk.”

If Congress does not renew ACP, Rosenworcel pointed out that households receiving help through the program could be at risk of losing affordable internet access.

“The Affordable Connectivity Program is connecting millions and millions of households across the country.  The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created this program, our largest-ever effort to make broadband affordable nationwide, but we now are on the brink of letting that success slip away,” Rosenworcel said.  “Disconnecting millions of families from their jobs, schools, markets, and information is not the solution. We have come too far with the ACP to turn back.” 

The program is the largest broadband funding initiative in America’s history, and nearly 23 million households rely on the funding to pay for high-speed service. According to the FCC’s website, total claims reported as of Jan. 16 reveal that eligible low-income families in Lowndes County, where roughly 1,415 households have received $834,228 in ACP support.

In Butler County, 2,868 households have received help through ACP to gain affordable, reliable broadband they need for school, work, health care and a variety of other uses. Funds disbursed as of Jan. 1 add up to $1,735,437. In Crenshaw County, 1,169 families have received $657,387 in aid.

Procedures established for ACP call for winding down the program which is set to stop accepting new enrollments Feb. 8. The FCC has already launched an outreach effort to notify participants about the potential benefits loss.

Broadband providers were required to send notice to ACP subscribers regarding the possible end of the program with data outlining the possible impact on broadband costs once ACP ceases.

After the FCC announces the official final month of program funding, providers are required to send at least two more household notices with details on when ACP is ending and how the termination will impact their service costs. The notice will also include information on how subscribers can opt-out of continuing service or make changes to their broadband service plan.

Representative Moore did not respond immediately to requests for comments on what measures Congress will take, if any, to sustain the ACP. 

To find a breakdown of ACP participation by Congressional district, please visit