Promoting Affordable Connectivity Program, CEO of Broadband Forum, $50M for Minnesota

An economic policy research group has developed a website to promote funding for the ACP.

Promoting Affordable Connectivity Program, CEO of Broadband Forum, $50M for Minnesota
Craig Thomas, incoming CEO of the Broadband Forum

October 11, 2023 – An economic policy institute has launched a website Tuesday dedicated to the promotion and sustainability of the Affordable Connectivity Program.

ACPconnects.com, run by the American Consumer Institute, was created to equip consumers with knowledge of what the ACP is, its funding sustainability issue, and what consumers can do to champion for continued ACP funding, said a press release.

The ACI website provides visitors with a link to downloadable ACP information graphics, explaining that those materials can be used by consumers to promote the program and highlighting the need to keep it going.

The site also identifies government officials and policymakers who are in favor of maintaining the ACP, while linking users to other resources like the ACP application portal and an enrollment tracker serviced by Universal Service Administration Co.

“The ACP has a role to play in closing the digital divide, it is time for Congress to recognize that role and work toward extending the program before it is too late,” said the ACI in a written statement.

Advocates for the monthly discount service have said that the program, which currently serves almost 21 million low-income Americans, is expected to run out of money in early 2024.

Despite suggestions from industry experts on how to continue funding the ACP, there is currently no clear legislation that outlines if or how that would happen.

Craig Thomas new head of Broadband Forum

The Broadband Forum, an organization focused on broadband innovation and standards, announced Monday the appointment of Craig Thomas as its next CEO, effective January 1.

Thomas has been involved with the organization as vice president on strategic marketing and business development since 2020, and will step into his new role after the current managing director, Ken Ko, retires at the end of the year.

“We are entering a new era for broadband where speed is no longer a constraint for subscriber services,” Thomas said in a release. “Innovations in broadband connectivity allow the industry to capitalize on the potential of broadband beyond residential connectivity services.”

Previously, Thomas worked in roles at a variety of broadband companies and organizations including Calix, Cosine Communications, and Ericsson.

“Craig’s selection as CEO was a natural choice for Broadband Forum and we are confident the leadership transition will be smooth,” said Broadband Forum Chairman John Blackford.

Minnesota plows $50M into two broadband projects

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced Friday that it received $50 million in grant funding, which will be funneled into two state broadband expansion projects.

$30 million of the grant funding will go toward DEED’s Border-to-Border Broadband Program, which reimburses broadband providers for up to half of the cost of their infrastructure projects.

The remaining $20 million will be used for the states’ Low Population Density program, which provides grants to providers who are building broadband infrastructure in communities with low population density.

DEED has opened up a request for proposals, asking providers to submit their projects for funding consideration should they meet the requirements of those two projects.

“Broadband is an absolute necessity for Minnesotans looking to connect online with employers, customers, schools, doctors, government services, social networks – frankly, anything at all,” said the department’s commissioner, Matt Varilek.