Today’s White House announcement celebrates an important milestone in our country’s efforts to promote broadband adoption and the success of the FCC-administered support program in helping low-income families subscribe and stay connected to the internet. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers government assistance to many families for the purchase of broadband services and computers. And when combined with existing private programs run by cable providers that offer robust internet service for $10 – $20 monthly, many eligible families are even better positioned to subscribe to broadband.
Broadband adoption has been a focus of the cable industry for many years. In fact, for the past decade, NCTA member companies have connected over 14 million Americans to the internet through programs that offer steeply reduced rates, discounted computer equipment and training needed to build the digital skills necessary to navigate the internet. In addition to assisting families that are struggling economically, these programs are helping senior citizens, veterans and the disabled. And internet service providers (ISPs) have forged partnerships with numerous community organizations to inform and educate consumers of these programs.
During the pandemic, ISPs significantly expanded their broadband adoption programs, including increasing the speed of low-cost offerings, expanding recipient eligibility, and developing new partnerships to promote home broadband adoption and maintain connection. Indeed, there are countless stories of ISPs who partnered with school districts and local community organizations to identify those households without broadband and to install connectivity as quickly as possible so that children could participate in school virtually from home.
One such story was recently told by Washington, D.C. resident LaJoy Johnson-Law, who said that receiving internet through her ISP's broadband adoption program completely changed her life for the better once her daughter, who has special needs, could continue her studies and special programs online at home. Her school was instrumental in informing her that she was eligible to receive the discounted subscription benefits of the program.
In a relatively short amount of time, the creation of a durable support mechanism through ACP has offered a new lifeline to many low-income consumers that has helped to further invigorate industry adoption programs. The rapid rollout of this program – thanks to the tremendous work and efforts of the FCC and other stakeholders – is enabling ISPs to do their part to connect as many Americans as possible to broadband. NCTA member companies are participating in the program and have opened up this opportunity to millions of consumers across the United States in urban and rural communities.
The cable industry will continue its quest to reach people like LaJoy Johnson-Law and her family, and to work toward overcoming other, non-financial barriers to adoption so that all Americans can realize the benefits of a home broadband connection. Today’s milestone is a testament to the hard work of many in coming together to help Americans connect through broadband as they deal with the hardships that the pandemic has thrown their way the past two years. But it also points to the longer road ahead and to the complexity of addressing other remaining barriers to broadband adoption that must be tackled if we are to realize our goal of bringing the benefits of the internet to all Americans.