Public Knowledge Joins 24 Public Interest Groups Urging Congress To Renew FCC Auction Authority, Fund ACP

Groups argue that directing $7 billion of the auction’s projected revenue to the Affordable Connectivity Program would help keep tens of millions of low-income households connected.

Today, Public Knowledge joined 24 other public interest and consumer advocacy groups in a letter urging Congress to renew the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority to help fund the agency’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The groups argue that directing $7 billion of the auction’s projected revenue to the ACP would help keep tens of millions of low-income households connected, ensuring that families can afford access to the high-speed internet necessary to participate in today’s society. The program is currently slated to end in April unless the agency obtains more funding.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“The ACP serves as a critical lifeline for millions of low-income households in America. Unfortunately, the FCC projects that the program will run out of funds in little over a month. Without this funding, millions of people will either struggle to maintain access to the internet or lose access entirely. We will revert to a situation where children must do their homework in McDonald’s parking lots, where job seekers cannot look for work opportunities, and where the sick and elderly will lose access to critical telehealth services. Congress can prevent these outcomes and continue our progress towards affordable, universal internet access by renewing the FCC’s spectrum auction authority.

“The ACP targets the affordability component of the digital divide by offering a monthly internet discount to qualifying low-income households, households in high-cost areas, and households on Tribal lands. While the program was created in response to the unique conditions posed by COVID-19, enrollment has continued to grow in the years following the pandemic – from 1.5 million households enrolled in May of 2021 to its current size of 23 million households. As the program’s enduring popularity indicates, Americans’ increasing connectivity needs were not transitory, they are the new normal – and Americans’ use of the internet and perspectives about the internet have evolved accordingly.

“One year out from the lapse of the FCC’s auction authority, Congress has a unique opportunity to advance our national spectrum goals while simultaneously generating sufficient revenue to support the connectivity needs of millions of Americans. We urge you to take swift action to protect these gains in connectivity by passing legislation to renew the FCC’s auction authority and fund the ACP. In doing so, we can realize the ambitions of our infrastructure investments, close the digital divide, and ensure that every American has access to the social, economic, and professional benefits connectivity has to offer.”

You may view the letter for more information.

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