Applicants Have Trouble With Applying for Affordable Connectivity Program

Concerns from advocates echo some of FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s concerns for the ACP.

Applicants Have Trouble With Applying for Affordable Connectivity Program
Photo of Danielle Davis, Lyle Ishida, Sandra Caraveo, Emily Chi, and Joi Chaney and Tuesday’s event.

WASHINGTON, February 23, 2022 – Advocates for the Affordable Connectivity Program said Tuesday they face language, outreach hurdles in encouraging eligible households to apply.

The program, which is an extension of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, provides eligible households with an up-to $30 per month subsidy and $75 per month subsidy for houses in tribal lands for broadband internet, with a one-time $100 subsidy on a device. On March 1, 2022, the ACP will be the full-time replacement to the EBB.

But despite a White House event announcing more than 10 million Americans have registered for the program, panelists from various organizations — who all spoke about the importance of encouraging eligible household to apply to the ACP — said they face barriers, including language gaps, to getting people signed up.

“The general consensus is that the language [of the application] is scary,” said Sandra Caraveo, national programs manager at the League of United Latin American Citizens.

According to Emily Chi, director of telecommunications, technology and media at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, there is a “need for bilingual resources and translators at every step of the process.

We need to reach people where they are….We want to make [the ACP application process] as accessible as possible,” said Chi.

Another hurdle advocates face is getting the word out about the ACP. Caraveo said that a lot of eligible households are simply “not aware of the option [of ACP] being available to them.”

At an event on Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the “biggest challenge” of the ACP has been getting households signed up.

“These resources are meant to reach our most underserved communities,” Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, said Tuesday.

There are 30 million households without broadband access, Americans are paying some of the highest prices in the world for broadband services, and record amounts of time are being spent online, said Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-California.

Possible solutions

One way to get over these hurdles is for people to communicate with the officials in their state, said Joi Chaney, executive director of the Washington bureau and senior vice president of policy and advocacy at the National Urban League.

“[Figure] out if there are any resources for outreach opportunities,” she said.

Chi agreed. “We really need community members to step up and share their stories.”

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