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More than 20 million people have signed up for the FCC’s broadband discount program

There is still a large gap between those who have access to affordable high-speed internet and those who do not.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

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Analysis

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The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) program that offers qualified Americans a discount on their monthly broadband bills has surpassed 20 million enrollees, the agency recently announced. 

The FCC created the Affordable Connectivity Program as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, and an earlier version was established in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As the work-from-home orders and lockdowns highlighted the country’s stark digital dividethe gap between those who have access to affordable high-speed internet and those who don’t—the ACP has gradually gained more enrollees

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The program grants monthly discounts to eligible Americans for their broadband bills and offers a one-time discount for people to buy devices to get them online. 

Hitting 20 million enrollees comes after the FCC said it would be boosting awareness of the ACP. The FCC said 17 million people had enrolled in the program in April. 

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“For a long time, closing the digital divide focused on one part of the equation—the lack of physical infrastructure to get online. But we know that for many people, even when there was technically access, the cost to get online was too high.  Thanks to investments from Congress, we have new tools to tackle both challenges, including the Affordable Connectivity Program that is helping struggling families to get or stay online to pay for this modern-day necessity,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.  

“Enrolling more than 20 million eligible households is no small feat—and wouldn’t be possible without the partnership of organizations in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the country who are getting the word about this powerful program.  We’ve made too much progress in helping families get online to turn back now,” Rosenworcel added. 

Some of the requirements to be eligible for the ACP include: Being enrolled in programs like SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, Federal Housing Assistance; having someone in your household enrolled in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program; anyone in your household receiving a Federal Pell Grant; or your household being at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. 

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Why it matters

There is still a large gap between those who have access to affordable high-speed internet and those who do not. The fact that 20 million Americans qualified and signed up for the ACP shows just how wide the gap is.

So any attempts to narrow that gap and break down barriers to people having affordable access to an essential tool is a good thing.

You can learn more about the ACP, and whether you qualify, here

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