Jim Doyle

Washington, D.C. – When Covid hit, Americans started to depend more on broadband for work, school, and entertainment. As our reliance on broadband grew, the cost of our “digital divide” grew with it. Students, workers, shops, and businesses without broadband access cannot compete. And too many Americans lack broadband.

Congress and President Biden responded in the 2021 infrastructure bill by creating the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program initiated earlier that year, to help lower income families afford broadband already available in their communities. They also created several grant and loan programs to help communities build broadband networks in unserved (mostly rural) areas.

Broadband providers have worked closely with school districts, local governments, business groups, and the Biden Administration to help more than 23 million lower-income households sign up for ACP. As a result, millions of students can download assignments and get help with their homework. Stay-at-home parents have more work-from-home options. And the elderly can use telehealth tools to obtain the care they need. Thanks to results like these, the ACP enjoys broad, bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, you need more than broad, bipartisan support in Congress to pass something in Congress. Additional funding for ACP is one of dozens of common-sense proposals that may not get a vote. Unless Congress acts, ACP funds will run out next month, and families enrolled in the ACP will lose the safety net that has served as a digital lifeline.

Providers are taking steps to try to keep ACP participants connected even after the program ends. Low-cost programs like Comcast Internet Essentials, Spectrum Internet Assist, AT&T Access, and Verizon Forward will let ACP enrollees keep home internet service for as little as $10 per month. But even with these efforts, the federal government’s failure to extend the ACP risks widening the digital divide.

Lately, some have proposed a fallback plan of adding a “universal service” tax to every broadband bill as a means of raising money to extend or replace the ACP. But FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, a Biden appointee, has warned lawmakers that taxing broadband service to fund the ACP could increase consumers’ internet bills by $5 to $18 per month – “harm[ing] those who may already be struggling to get and stay connected.” The progressive advocacy group Free Press has echoed Rosenworcel’s concern, warning that taxing broadband service “would disproportionately harm low-income households.”

Meanwhile, President Biden has pledged not to raise taxes on families earning less than $400,000 per year. Adding a new Broadband Tax onto consumers’ monthly internet bills would break that pledge.

The ACP has been a huge success, and alternatives – like funding continued benefits through a new tax on everyone’s broadband bill – are the wrong approach to making broadband more affordable. Congress needs to listen to the bipartisan support behind ACP, get back to work, and appropriate the funding needed to extend the program.




Business Forward has helped more than 270,000 local business leaders make the “business case” for climate action, affordable healthcare, immigration reform, diversity and inclusion, sensible tax laws, criminal justice reform, infrastructure investment, new trade deals, and other pro-growth reforms. Our leaders brief policymakers, work with local media, publish op-eds, submit testimony, and advocate online. We also promote their recommendations through issue briefs, survey reports, training manuals, podcasts, and social media. More than 800 mayors, governors, members of Congress, and senior Administration officials have participated in our briefings, including three presidents. Learn more at