IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

What's New in Digital Equity: ACP Enrollment Reaches 33 Percent

Plus, more states announce new broadband deployment funding, the White House launches a $1.5 billion innovation fund related to the telecommunications supply chain, and more.

 ACP Enrollment Graphic
Image courtesy Institute for Local Self-Reliance (screenshot)
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


Enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is currently at 33 percent of all eligible households in the United States, shows information from Community Networks' ACP Dashboard.

This number actually is a decreased percentage from when the dashboard first launched in summer 2022, but that has more to do with the expansion of eligibility. Indeed, when the dashboard launched, it reported that roughly 13 million of the 37 million eligible American households had signed up for the federal broadband affordability benefit. That's 36.7 percent. Now, the number is at 33 percent, but the number of eligible households has grown to 52 million.

All told, in roughly eight months about 4 million new households have signed up for the ACP.

Another story told by the data visualization, however, is the finite status of the ACP. In September, the dashboard reported that $12.6 billion remained in the ACP. Now, that number has shrunk to $8.7 billion, and with more households signed up — and signing up, potentially thanks in part to the ACP awareness campaigns being launched by state and local governments the nation over — the amount of remaining funds will decrease faster.

One of the consensus topics of importance at Net Inclusion — the nation's preeminent gathering of digital inclusion and equity practitioners — was the importance of the ACP, specifically continuing it essentially in perpetuity.

Without a permanent wellspring of funding, experts and advocates in the digital inclusion space have estimated the ACP may run out as soon as early 2024.

For those who are unfamiliar, the ACP is a federal benefit intended to help more people get high-speed Internet at home. The program, which is coordinated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), offers households that qualify discounts of up to $30 a month on high-speed Internet, with up to $75 a month if the households are on tribal lands. In addition, participants can get up to $100 in a one-time payment to offset the cost of devices they need to access the Internet, including laptops, Chromebooks and tablets. (Zack Quaintance)


This week, the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund was launched, a fund that will invest $1.5 billion into developing open and interoperable networks. This fund is made possible by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and aims to demonstrate the viability of such networks to enhance competition and improve supply chain resilience. The initial round of funding, which is expected to offer $140.6 million in grants, will help ensure that 5G technology is built by the U.S. and allies, not vendors that could potentially threaten security.

The Innovation Fund’s first notice of funding opportunity aims to expand and improve testing to determine viability and address barriers for things such as open radio access networks. Later funding opportunities will build on the work from the first round.

Applications for the first round of funding will be due on June 2, and grants will begin to be awarded in August 2023. More information can be found on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s website. (Julia Edinger)


A new report looks at the state of policymaking toward municipal broadband in the U.S., and among its findings was that 17 states still have legislation hindering municipal broadband networks in some form.

The report is from BroadbandNow, a research organization that seeks to enable comparing Internet service providers and testing broadband speeds. Its work is supplemented by data from the Federal Communications Commission as well as data that comes to the group directly from Internet service providers. As noted above, this week's new report is essentially a temperature check on state-level laws that impact municipal broadband networks.

Among the key findings of the report were that "17 states currently have laws in place hindering municipal broadband networks in some form." Additionally, four states have other roadblocks that make it more difficult to operate a municipal broadband network. Two states, meanwhile, have passed bills in the past year that will empower, enable or support municipal broadband networks.

The report also notes that the BEAD grants coming down from the federal government to support broadband deployment in the U.S., are doing so with a requirement that states waive certain laws, potentially those that are limiting muni broadband networks.

The full report, the list of states, and the methodology for the determinations can all be found via BroadbandNow. (Zack Quaintance)


In other state news, eight communities in Florida will receive a total of over $22 million for broadband Internet expansion, according to an announcement this week. The funding is the second round of awards made possible through the Broadband Opportunity Program.

The funding announced this week is expected to support more than 33,200 unserved locations. More information on the projects being awarded can be found in the announcement.

The program is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. So far, a total of more than $166 million has been awarded across 47 counties in the state, with the first round having been awarded in February. (Julia Edinger)


Maryland also announced a major funding award for broadband deployment, to the tune of $92 million.

The state estimates this money will help bring high-speed Internet to as many as 14,500 households and businesses, through the pre-existing Connect Maryland Initiative, which is run by Maryland's Office of Statewide Broadband. This money is being given through a grant program to as many as 35 awards to Internet service providers as well as to local jurisdictions that are building broadband networks.

A full list of the awards can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


The Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA) is teaming up with AT&T and Digitunity to offer free digital literacy workshops to residents in low-income households so they can participate in the digital services of today’s society.

The workshop series, part of AT&T’s collaboration with the Public Library Association, aims to help the approximately 16 percent of U.S. adults who are not digitally literate. In the announcement last week, JCHA’s Interim Executive Director Stephen Cea said that he believes on-the-ground, individualized support is the best way to support vulnerable local families in the digital literacy space. For those unable to attend in person, there is a self-paced series available online. (Julia Edinger)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for <i>Government Technology</i>. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.