The future of the Affordable Connectivity Program is uncertain — take action!


April 2, 2024

Editor’s note: Sara Cederberg is Digital Communicator and Cheryl Leanza is Policy Advisor for United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry The following guest blog post is cross-posted with permission.

By Sara Cederberg and Cheryl Leanza
The internet is an integral part of our lives in this digital age.
 Nowadays, we rely on the internet not only for staying in touch with friends and family and entertainment but also for worship, work, health care, and managing our finances.

Since the adoption of a 1997 General Synod resolution, the United Church of Christ has formally recognized the need to ensure that our society does not become divided between those who are “information rich” and those who are “information poor,” leaving struggling people without the tools they need to succeed in today’s society.

And last year, a new resolution urging all parts of the UCC to advocate and support meaningful digital access in our society received a near-unanimous vote at the 34th General Synod!

This work is so critical because too many people in the United States still don’t have access to affordable, high-speed internet — whether that is because of where they live or a lack of funds. And for those whose biggest barrier is cost, an unexpected expense can frequently consume the budget for an internet bill.

In 2021, UCC Media Justice teamed up with our civil rights allies and successfully persuaded Congress to adopt a new program that helps low-income households pay for high-speed internet, today known as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). These households are offered $30 per month off a mobile or home broadband internet service bill (up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands). The federal funds go directly to the service provider to cover the discount.

To spread the word about this incredible program, we worked with UCC churches, conferences, associations and individual members to launch our “Love Your Neighbor: Get Them Internet” campaign to connect as many households in our communities as possible to affordable, high-speed internet. As of this month, nearly 23 million households participate in the ACP program!

Unfortunately, funding for the program will run out in a little over a month — and the program will officially shut down in May unless Congress takes action. A recent FCC survey of ACP consumers revealed how the end of the program may impact their access to broadband services. Many said they would “take money from other bills,” or “cut other basic expenses,” “go without” the internet or “drop the service” entirely.

In remarks by President Biden at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, he strongly urged local elected officials to press Congress on reauthorizing the program, pointing to the importance of access to high-speed internet for students, small business owners, and those seeking telehealth services.

Two bills moving through the House and Senate would provide new funding to the program. The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024, sponsored by Reps. Yvette Clarke (D–NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R–Pennsylvania) in the House and Sens. Peter Welch (D–Vermont) and J.D. Vance (R–Ohio) in the Senate have strong bipartisan support.

At this time of year, during Lent, it is even more important that we in the United Church of Christ follow through on our commitments to social justice. Take a few minutes to contact their members of Congress and tell them to save the ACP before it is too late:

We will continue to keep you updated

Affordable Connectivity Program
Internet access