Today, the Federal Communications Commission released rules to implement the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program to give low-income families a monthly $30 broadband subsidy. The program created by Congress subsidizes broadband for low-income consumers. The Affordable Connectivity Program will replace the agency’s Emergency Broadband Benefit to keep Americans connected even after the pandemic. Public Knowledge applauds Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel for moving this vital program forward to help ensure no American is left without a broadband connection.
The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Despite having just 60 days to create rules for the ACP, the Commission’s Report and Order represents an impressive effort to protect consumers. The rules will ensure the FCC promotes the program effectively by conducting its own outreach; requiring providers to advertise the benefit; and investigating the possibility of establishing an outreach partner grant program to help trusted community organizations reach consumers. These rules will also ensure consumers on grandfathered plans can continue to connect through the ACP and that providers can’t immediately terminate service for non-payment, nor use past or present debts to deny re-enrollment.
“The Commission’s rules deftly balance the tricky transition from the EBB to the ACP by preventing the most vulnerable consumers from experiencing bill shock while maintaining the ease of enrollment for those who have demonstrated their ability or desire to pay for broadband.
“Unfortunately, although device access remains key to closing the digital divide and increasing enrollment in the ACP, the device discount component of the EBB has been underutilized due to limited provider participation. The Commission missed an important opportunity to improve this component by not encouraging providers to partner with manufacturers, refurbishers, and retail outlets to distribute devices.
“Regardless of the ACP’s few shortcomings, we commend the FCC for handling such a critical issue with efficiency and finesse. We look forward to working with the agency to help everyone get – and keep – their broadband connection.”
You may view our recent letter urging Congress to provide broadband subsidies for consumers during the pandemic.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at email@example.com or 405-249-9435.