How Congress can close the digital divide


Arizona is in line to receive almost $1 billion in federal funds as a massive new broadband infrastructure initiative, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, gets underway. This major investment will make a big difference for residents of our state.The federal grant program, at $42.5 billion nationwide, provides critical funding for long-needed infrastructure improvements to ensure that broadband — think fast internet at home and in businesses — is accessible and affordable for families across Arizona and the United States.
Ilana Lowery
The internet is important for families and for Arizona’s economy. And this once in a generation investment will help to ensure that everyone — regardless of age, occupation, or income — has access to it. But there’s a catch.
To ensure the best use of BEAD money in our state, Congress needs to take action on another program directly tied to its success — one that could run out of money soon. Congress must extend the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to encourage internet service providers to make ambitious use of these new federal funds. Like BEAD, the ACP was also included in the infrastructure law, and it provides $30 per month to lower-income households to help pay for high-speed internet at home.
This is a big moment for Arizona. The business, education and health care sectors have also been watching because this significant investment in our tech infrastructure is critical to helping families thrive and for a strong economic future.
Maricopa County has the second-most unserved and underserved areas for broadband access in the country, with 39,490 households. Rural Cochise County has the most, with 41,107. More than one in 10 Arizonans aren’t able to use the internet, either because they aren’t able to access it, can’t afford it, or don’t have the skills to use it. It’s time to change this status quo.
Common Sense Media’s own analysis found that the ACP reduced the cost for ISPs to connect households. In fact, it led to an estimated 25% reduction in the per household subsidy needed to incentivize providers in rural areas. And, according to the Bento …

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