By Peter Christiansen

The end of the Affordable Connectivity Program could leave Utahns looking for a new internet plan.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which has helped many U.S. households get a reliable internet for the very first time, is currently scheduled to end in May 2024 due to lack of funding, threatening many people’s jobs and access to health care and education. At the time the FCC paused enrollment into the program, 75,088 Utah households benefited from the ACP.

The ACP has broad support not just from those who benefit from it directly, but also from consumer advocates, state and local governments, and telecom companies. Although a bipartisan funding bill was proposed in January, it has yet to come to the floor for a vote. 

Why is the ACP important?

The Affordable Connectivity Program was created as a permanent successor to the temporary programs signed into law by President Trump as part of the CARES Act. The program provides a benefit to qualifying households to make their internet bill more affordable. Many internet service providers (ISPs) created new plans to work with this benefit specifically, allowing some people to get internet service completely free of charge.

At the time of the enrollment freeze, there were over 23 million households enrolled in the ACP, according to a survey from the Benenson Strategy Group:

Along with providing a financial benefit, the ACP also increased consumer protections for internet users. One of the stipulations of the ACP was that ISPs were required to give all their subscribers equal access to service. This meant that ISPs were required to provide “comparable speeds, capacities, latency, and other quality of service metrics” for all areas, both urban and rural.

The ACP has been incredibly effective. Steve Forbes, Chairman of Forbes Media, has called for the continued funding of the ACP, specifically noting the cost-effectiveness of the program. In a recent appeal to Congress, Forbes reiterated its economic benefits:

“A connected population is key to the U.S.’ long-term economic success in the connected digital economy. [...] Internet access empowers low-income families to obtain marketable digital skills, compete for better paying jobs and access remote work. ACP enrollment is not a government handout; rather, it creates an incentive for Americans to actively participate in the workforce, helping to make financial success and mobility a reality.”

The ACP doesn’t have an end date, but its continued operation depends on continued funding from Congress, which hasn’t happened. If a funding bill isn’t passed before May, households will begin losing their ACP benefits.

What will happen if the ACP ends?

If funding is allowed to run out, April will be the last fully-funded month of the ACP. Households on ACP plans will lose their internet connection unless they opt-in to receiving undiscounted service from their ISP.  

According to the Benenson survey, these impacts will not just be felt by working adults, but by children and seniors, too:

  • 65% of ACP participants fear losing their job or their household’s primary source of income.
  • 75% of ACP participants fear losing access to important healthcare services, like online appointments or prescription medicine refills.
  • 81% of ACP parents worry about their children falling behind in school.
  • 87% of seniors participating in the ACP are concerned about losing the ability to access government benefits like Medicaid and Social Security.

According to the 2021 American Communities Survey, before the introduction of the ACP, 14.7% of Utahns didn’t have a home internet connection. With Utah’s tech industry being one of the fastest growing parts of its economy, increasing internet access is more important than ever. Utah Senator Mitt Romney has noted that “access to affordable, fast, and reliable broadband is critical for the education of our students and economic development opportunities in communities throughout our state.”

What can Utahns do?

Running out of funding for the ACP would have significant consequences, but fortunately a funding bill has already been proposed. The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, which was introduced into both the House and the Senate by a bipartisan group of lawmakers now has more than 200 cosponsors, making it very likely to pass.

Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle this bill is facing is time. Months after being introduced, the ACP Extension Act still hasn’t been brought to the floor for a vote. The most important thing you can do to support the ACP is to contact your elected officials, especially your senators and representatives, and tell them that you want Congress to fund the program. 

Additionally, the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity established the Utah Broadband Center to support broadband development across the state. Its current Digital Access Plan notes that the ACP has been the single most impactful affordability asset available to Utahns, but that there is no current plan for a state-level replacement, nor was one created during the recently ended 2024 Utah State Legislative Session of the 65th Legislature.

Members of the public can register on the Center’s website to attend upcoming meetings and events to voice their concerns about internet affordability in Utah. And if you’re affected by the end of the ACP program, you can find affordable internet options in Utah here.


Based in Salt Lake City, Peter Christiansen is a writer for Clearlink and its portfolio site, Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, live streaming, and telecom policy. He holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for nearly 20 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

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