The FCC at its monthly agenda meeting this morning adopted two orders meant to increase participation in its Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). It established an Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program to gather “partners” and fund awareness programs. At the same time, it launched “Your Home, Your Internet,” a one-year pilot program in cooperation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to let those participating in various housing relief programs know that they are ACP eligible as well.
More than 13 million U.S. households already are participating in ACP, which the FCC began at the start of 2022 to connect low-income homes with internet service. The legislation creating the ACP authorized the FCC to fund service providers who provide deep discounts to eligible households. That legislation also directed the FCC to conduct outreach to ensure widespread ACP usage.
“We will be funding outreach to diverse populations – persons with disabilities, individuals living in rural and tribal communities, and those who have been historically underserved, marginalized or adversely affected by poverty or inequality,” Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said of the outreach grant program. “These communities may not yet be aware of ACP … maybe skeptical. To reach them, we need this kind of targeted outreach.”
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel gave Starks credit for leading the drive for the outreach grant program. “He saw very clearly that this was an underserved population,” she said. “I’m grateful for his efforts, both for what he did to help get this program going, and for what he will do going forward to ensure it is a success.”
Regarding “Your Home, Your Internet,” Starks said, “There is a particular nexus between housing and connectivity. If we can help a family secure housing that they need, we should be able to help them secure an internet connection as well.” He noted that out of 5 million currently on federal housing assistance programs, only 500,000 have applied for ACP. The Your Home program will seek to raise ACP awareness among those using federal, state, local and tribal housing programs.