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What’s New in Digital Equity: The ACP Is Over; Now What?

Plus, Washington launched a digital equity dashboard, Kansas announced funding for digital literacy, a Center for Tribal Digital Sovereignty was launched, and more.

Person wearing suit holds hourglass that has run out of time.
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) announced that June 1 marked the official end of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) due to a lack of funding. The program provided support for tens of millions of American households in the way of a federal Internet subsidy, but with the end of this program, some areas will be impacted disproportionately.

ACP enrollment closed in February, but advocates have not stopped urging Congress to allocate additional funding to continue the program. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wrote Congress last week urging the program’s continuation, and while legislation that would provide funding through 2024 has been introduced, funding to sustain the program has not yet been secured. Rosenworcel remains hopeful that congressional action will enable future support of the ACP: “The Commission is available to provide any assistance Congress may need to support funding the ACP in the future and stands ready to resume the program if additional funding is provided."

Earlier this year, stakeholders in and outside the public sector began wind-down procedures to ease the impact of the subsidy’s loss. These measures included encouraging ACP providers to develop their own low-income programs or low-cost plans, offering training and resources for ACP subsidy recipients to explore other options for affordable Internet like the commission’s Lifeline program, and urging Lifeline providers to spread awareness. However, the Lifeline program’s $9.25 monthly benefit is significantly lower than the ACP’s $30 monthly benefit; not all ACP-eligible households qualify for the Lifeline program; and not all service providers participate.

So, what are industry stakeholders saying about the program’s end?

The White House issued a statement about the program’s end, highlighting more than a dozen service providers who are voluntarily committing to offer plans at $30 or less to low-income households through 2024, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. The statement acknowledges that is still too expensive for some families and urges Congress to extend program funding. It also highlights broad federal funding investments in digital equity through other sources, like the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program.

In a blog post, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance said it will continue advocating for a federal affordable broadband solution: “We may have lost this battle temporarily, but we are confident we’ll see a day again where broadband affordability is addressed comprehensively nationwide.”

David B. Dorwart, National Lifeline Association board chairman, echoed this sentiment, arguing “a lapse in the ACP’s funding does not mean it is dead.”

The FCC, the White House and numerous other groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Consumer Law Center, New America and Next Century Cities — continue to urge Congress to swiftly secure a way to fund this program.


The Washington State Broadband Office's (WSBO) Digital Equity Dashboard launched last week. It displays the digital divide in the state and WSBO will use it to guide digital equity work.

“All the data and every online tool we can provide are stepping stones toward greater equality in the digital world,” Aaron Wheeler, WSBO director, said in an announcement.

The state encourages other organizations, including local government agencies, to use this data in their decision-making. The dashboard leverages data from multiple sources, and the state offers downloadable data sets for users interested in doing independent analysis. The data will be updated regularly to illustrate progress.


In other state news, Kansas made two recent announcements related to digital literacy.

First, Gov. Laura Kelly announced $2.8 million in funding for 15 organizations participating in the Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans program. It aims to help Kansans build their digital skills so they can equitably access the Internet.

The Kansas Office of Broadband Development received applications for the program from organizations including local governments, community organizations and educational institutions. More information about the program and funding recipients can be found on the Kansas Department of Commerce website.

Second, Kelly announced $4 million in awards through the state’s Advancing Digital Opportunities to Promote Technology program, which works to improve digital inclusion by distributing devices and increasing public Wi-Fi access around the state.


In a similar vein, the state of Oklahoma is enhancing its digital skills training in an emerging area of digital literacy: artificial intelligence (AI). The state has partnered with Google to provide AI training to workers.

The state will help more than 10,000 Oklahomans access the new AI Essentials course for free. The new course builds on work to advance digital literacy, including a partnership between Google and Oklahoma in the Google Career Certificate program, per the announcement.

A report published in April found public-sector IT professionals are lacking in AI skills, with the public sector’s AI skills gap being greater than the industry average.


The Center for Tribal Digital Sovereignty launched this week, designed to provide tribal governments, leadership and communities with the necessary resources to establish a digital sovereignty plan. The center’s launch was made possible through a partnership between the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the National Congress of American Indians.

Currently, there is no single tribal digital sovereignty plan to fit the needs of all 574 tribal nations; this center is intended to offer a central resource network to help tribal nations find long-term solutions. The center is seeking support from partners dedicated to advancing tribal sovereignty and digital inclusion.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. 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.