Skip to content

May 13, 2024

King Joins Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Affordable Internet Access, Close Digital Divide

As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, King has been instrumental in securing affordable internet access for all

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) has cosponsored bipartisan legislation to continue providing affordable internet access for people across Maine and further address the digital divide. The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024 would provide $7 billion in additional funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to continue the program and ensure that nearly 100,000 households in Maine can stay connected to the Internet.

The ACP was passed in 2021 as a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with an initial authorization of $14.2B. The ACP increases access to affordable high-speed internet options to qualifying households across Maine and the country. However, due to oversubscription, the popular program is estimated to run out of funding and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will cease accepting applications if Congress does not reauthorize funding.

More specifically, the ACP is a federal benefit program that grants discounts of $30 per month toward internet service bills for low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

“In Maine, many seniors rely on internet access for telehealth appointments, paying bills, or staying connected to loved ones – and young students need it for help in their homework and studies” said Senator King. “The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act ensures that Maine people will not lose the monthly discount that, for many, is the difference between digital darkness and staying connected. Providing reliable, affordable connection is essential to the health and well-being of countless people throughout the state.”

Over 23 million Americans are currently enrolled in the ACP, including 98,632 households in Maine (nearly 1 in 6 households). An overwhelming majority of older adults —78% surveyed by AARP — say they support Congress extending the ACP. Letting the ACP run out of funding would have devastating effects on people who use this program: 77% of households who rely on the ACP say losing their ACP benefit would disrupt their service by making them change their plan or drop internet service entirely. In anticipation of the expiration of ACP funding, the Affordable Program Extension Act would appropriate $7 billion of addition funding to continue the program.

The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Roger Marshall (R-KA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Senator King has been an advocate for expanding affordable, equitable internet access as a way to increase economic opportunity across America. Additionally, Senator King was a key negotiator of the historic broadband provisions in the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which are expected to deliver over $400 million for Maine’s broadband expansion. In December 2022, Maine received $5.5 million to plan for the deployment and adoption of broadband service throughout the state.


Next Article » « Previous Article