VP Harris flags internet affordability issue as FCC subsidy signups hit 10M

Vice President Kamala Harris called on all U.S. internet service providers to back efforts to provide more affordable broadband options for consumers, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced more than 10 million people have signed up for its Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Speaking at a White House event, Harris lamented statistics which show that 42 million people in the country still lack access to high-speed internet. She pointed to affordability as a key challenge and hailed the ACP enrollment figure as a “historic accomplishment” on the road to ensuring 100% of the country is connected.

“There are so many reasons why it is so difficult for people in our nation to access reliable high-speed internet, and today we are here to talk about one of the most common reasons: Cost, the expense of it. Half of all the people who do not have high-speed internet say it is because the monthly cost is too high,” she said. “Thanks to the Affordable Connectivity Program, one in four American households are now eligible to receive a monthly discount on their monthly bill.”

Launched at the end of last year to replace the earlier Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, the ACP offers a $30 per month discount on broadband service for most households or $75 per month for those on Tribal lands.

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Harris argued achieving universal connectivity will “take all of us working together” and called on “all internet service providers to participate meaningfully in this program, to offer more affordable high-speed plans to customers and to spread the word to all eligible households.”

At the same event, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said more than 1,000 ISPs are already participating in the program and the agency is working with 35,000 advocates and community groups to raise awareness about the subsidy.

As of February 14, data on the Universal Service Administrative Company website showed 10,078,322 households were enrolled in the ACP, up from 9,048,326 households when the EBB program ended on December 31, 2021.

California continued to lead the way with 1.22 million signups. Texas and Florida held the second and third positions with 714,386 and 711,232 households enrolled, respectively. New York followed with 680,402 signups, with Ohio rounding out the top five with 523,318.