Matheson: Millions May Lose Broadband If Affordable Connectivity Program Ends

NRECA’s Jim Matheson is urging Congress to save the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps low-income households obtain broadband. The program will deplete its funding in April. (Photo By: Casey Clark)

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson is urging leaders in Congress to act quickly to save a federal program that helps millions of low-income families afford quality internet service.

The Federal Communications Commission said its Affordable Connectivity Program will expire in April if additional funding is not provided. The ACP provides a monthly subsidy for qualified households to help with the cost of broadband service, mainly in economically challenged areas. Electric cooperatives serve 92% of the nation’s persistent poverty counties.

“NRECA and its members are deeply committed to bridging the digital divide and connecting rural families and businesses with reliable and affordable high-speed internet, and the majority of NRECA members offering broadband participate in ACP,” Matheson told the lawmakers in a Feb. 5 letter.

“Ensuring that there is a consistent, dependable and effective low-income broadband program such as the ACP will allow rural providers to deliver the highest quality broadband service to their communities at an affordable price,” he said, noting that allowing the program to end will “jeopardize access to broadband services for millions.”

The ACP provides monthly internet bill assistance of $30 to eligible low-income households. Those on tribal lands may qualify for $75 a month.

“As more cooperatives and other internet service providers work to build broadband networks in hard-to-reach rural and low-income areas, affordability will become increasingly critical to adoption of these essential services,” Matheson said.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act to provide funding for the ACP through the end of the year.

Matheson asked the lawmakers to support passage of that bill or similar legislation to “provide important short-term clarity and certainty around the program while Congress works to address questions around the future of the program and develop a permanent funding solution.”

NRECA Broadband is positioning co-ops as a crucial force in rural broadband. Visit to learn more and sign up.

Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.