Program provides discounted internet access for more than 230,000 Maine households
Governor Janet Mills has joined a bipartisan group of twenty-five fellow governors in urging Congressional leaders to provide additional funding to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
The Affordable Connectivity Program, created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is designed to help ensure Americans can afford the internet connection they need to work, study, access health care, and meet other needs. In Maine, more than 230,000 households are eligible to receive a discount on their broadband bill each month under the program. To date, more than 94,000 households in Maine have enrolled in the program. Unless Congress provides additional resources, the program is expected to run out of funding in April 2024.
In a bipartisan letter, Governor Mills and her colleagues warned that a lapse in funding could result in loss of connectivity for more than 20 million households nationwide.
“Closing our nation’s digital divide transcends politics. Whether you live in a rural area, a suburb, or a city, every American needs access to high-speed internet,” wrote Governor Mills and her fellow Governors. “Preserving the ACP will allow us to build upon the progress we’ve made in expanding connectivity rather than falling behind in a mission we cannot afford to lose.”
Since taking office, Governor Mills has prioritized efforts to ensure that Maine people have a reliable connection they need to participate in today’s economy. In 2021, Governor Mills signed landmark legislation creating the Maine Connectivity Authority to advance the deployment of affordable, high speed broadband access across Maine. As of November 2023, the agency has facilitated over $110 million in investments to enable over 53,000 connections across the state. In June, Maine was awarded $272 million under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — the largest grant award Maine has ever received to build out broadband internet. In her 2022 State of the State, Governor Mills pledged that everyone in Maine who wants a high-speed, reliable internet connection will be able to have one by the end of next year.
Read the full letter (PDF); the text is as follows:
Dear Speaker Johnson, Minority Leader Jeffries, Majority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McConnell:
As Governors from across the country, we urge you to work collaboratively with the Biden Administration to ensure that a key tool in our joint efforts to bridge the digital divide—the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)—receives additional funding. It is essential that people do not lose access to the internet that this vital program has allowed them to gain.
There is broad agreement across the political spectrum that affordable high-speed internet is a necessity in today’s world, whether it’s for education, work or health care.
This is why we urge you to fund this critical program that makes internet access more affordable.
The ACP could run out of funding as early as April 2024. Without bipartisan collaboration between Congress and the White House to continue the ACP, nearly 20 million households enrolled nationally could lose connectivity as well as all the essential services that come with it.
The ACP is a critical complement to our collective efforts to expand access to broadband infrastructure in rural, unserved communities across the country. With $42.5 billion in Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding going to the states, we want to maximize this once-in-a-generation opportunity. The ACP plays a valuable role in helping households afford broadband and encouraging internet providers to build out rural broadband infrastructure. Recent analysis indicates that the ACP reduces the subsidy needed to incentivize providers to build in rural regions by 25% per household, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used to their maximum potential.
Closing our nation’s digital divide transcends politics. Whether you live in a rural area, a suburb, or a city, every American needs access to high-speed internet. Preserving the ACP will allow us to build upon the progress we’ve made in expanding connectivity rather than falling behind in a mission we cannot afford to lose.
We stand ready to work with you and the White House to find a commonsense solution to funding the ACP. We urge you to ensure this crucial program continues.