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What’s New in Digital Equity: ACP Ups Broadband Benefit to $75

Plus, a cross-agency partnership in New Jersey is working to get more residents enrolled in affordable broadband programs, North Carolina is looking for participation in digital equity services, and more.

Pile of cash on a white background.
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:


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is raising the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to include an up-to-$75 monthly broadband benefit for subscribers who qualify, officials have announced.

Previously, that benefit was capped at $30. The announcement described this as being applicable for “subscribers living in qualifying high-cost areas.” This raise is at the direction of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which specified that this would be for providers that show the previous $30 benefit would “cause them to experience particularized economic hardship.”

Essentially, in areas where providing broadband is more costly, Internet service providers can now get more money from the federal broadband benefit program so that they can continue offering service there. Related to this, Congress has separately directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to identify the high-cost areas that will now be eligible for this.

This inherently means that the money tabbed for the ACP may run out quicker. This money running out is already a concern in government and digital equity circles, with many advocates and elected officials calling for either an extension of the program or a more permanent replacement. This is slated to become more of an issue in the months to come, too — many of the state government plans for federal broadband support are being made assuming the ACP will remain in place.

The future of the ACP is developing. (Zack Quaintance)


The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) is partnering with the New Jersey State Library (NJSL) to launch ACP Connects NJ, an initiative that aims to increase participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the state.

NJSL had received a federal ACP grant of $400,000 from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support access to affordable Internet service. For this initiative, NJSL and NJDOH will work with community partners — such as food pantries and health centers — to host events focused on outreach and enrollment.

In the announcement, New Jersey State Librarian Jen Nelson cited a 2022 Rutgers University study which revealed that over 10 percent of New Jersey households do not have access to broadband Internet.

Although the program is expected to run out of funding in 2024, many stakeholders have called for its continuation. In the meantime, awareness of and enrollment initiatives continue, as current enrollment remains at under 40 percent of eligible households.

Those households eligible to participate in the ACP can enroll by going to They are also able to print a mail-in application to enroll. (Julia Edinger)


This week, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called on constituents to participate in the state’s Digital Equity Survey. This is the state’s first such survey, and responses will help inform the state’s planning efforts to maximize the impact of federal broadband funding.

The Digital Equity Survey is available online in nine languages, and participants can also request paper surveys. In addition, the state’s Asset Inventory Survey asks questions of organizations involved in digital equity work to assess available resources in this space. The deadline is Aug. 31 for both surveys.

Both surveys were created by the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Office of Digital Equity and Literacy with the Friday Institute at NC State University, according to the announcement. (Julia Edinger)


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently traveled with Vice President Kamala Harris to Kenosha, Wis., where the two celebrated an announcement that more broadband equipment would be manufactured in the United States.

As with the $75 ACP raise noted above, this is related to a requirement laid out by the Infrastructure Law, which requires made-in-America materials for its federally funded infrastructure programs. That list, of course, includes the ongoing historic deployment of high-speed Internet infrastructure. In Kenosha, Nokia is teaming with Sanmina Corporation to make key broadband electronics equipment at the facility there.

To make this possible, the announcement notes that Nokia will “move the manufacturing of multiple fiber broadband electronics products to the United States, including Optical Line Terminals (OLTs), OLT line cards” and other related equipment. Nokia says it expects to be able to deliver the products by the middle of 2024, with its production of them scaling to meet demand.

More information can be found via the federal announcement. (Zack Quaintance)


The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at MassTech has announced the second group of municipalities that will receive funding for technical assistance through the state’s Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program. The funding will help these 27 new municipalities gain insight to better leverage resources, build digital skills, and conduct community engagement.

“We are committed to ensuring people all across our state are able to access the essential tools that allow them to compete in today’s economy,” said Massachusetts Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao in the announcement.

With this new group of participating municipalities, there will now be 62 municipalities participating in the program. The first group was announced in May 2023. The program was funded by the Act Relative to Immediate COVID-19 Recovery Needs legislation. More information can be found on the program website. (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.