A new survey from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has found that more than three-quarters of households taking part in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will experience internet service disruptions if the program ends.

Currently, more than 23 million households take advantage of the ACP program, with many of them in rural areas, to get online and stay online to access healthcare, work, and education resources. Without further Congressional action, ACP funding will run out in April. To prevent disruptions, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives introduced the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, which, if adopted, would provide an additional $7 billion for the ACP.

“Thanks to today’s survey data, leaders making the decisions about ACP’s future know one thing for certain: if we want to close our nation’s digital divide, the Affordable Connectivity Program is not nice-to-have, it’s need-to-have,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.  “We’ve come too far to turn back now.”

According to the survey results, the majority of ACP participants – 68 percent – said they had inconsistent connectivity or zero connectivity prior to ACP. The overwhelming majority – 80 percent – cited adorability as the reason for having inconsistent or zero connectivity.

Facing a potential end to the ACP program, more than 77 percent of respondents said that losing their ACP benefit would disrupt their service by making them change their plan or drop internet service entirely.

Additionally, the FCC found that the ACP is being used to access critical services. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they use their ACP internet service to schedule or attend healthcare appointments. Nearly half of respondents said they use it to complete work or apply for jobs. Among respondents aged 18-24, 75 percent said they use it to do schoolwork.

The ACP Survey was conducted by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which administers the ACP for the FCC. To conduct the survey, USAC emailed the survey to a randomly selected sample of ACP households in December of 2023. The information gathered was then analyzed by the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics, which worked to ensure the survey data was representative of the entire ACP population.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs