Today 82,000 low-income Maine households have access to high-speed internet, essentially for free, thanks to Sen. Susan Collins’ leadership on the 2021 infrastructure bill. That’s because beginning with President Donald Trump’s Emergency Broadband Benefit, Collins and other leaders helped create theAffordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which offers families at 200% of the poverty level a $30 per month voucher to apply to their high-speed internet bills. It’s no surprise that ACP has been a huge success.
There’s just one problem — funding is set to expire next year unless Congress acts. Essentially kicking what could be one-hundred thousand Mainers off of their broadband subscription would be a disaster. As a 35-year educator, I can tell you cutting off internet access would hamper Maine’s ability to prepare our kids for the future, stunting their education making it harder to apply for jobs and learn new skills once they become adults.
On a statewide level, funding ACP is critical — increased broadband access has been proven to strengthen the American economy and drive growth. Even more, as Maine decides how to spend upapproximately $500 million for rural broadband expansion, making sure that rural households can actually afford to connect to newly installed infrastructure will be pivotal to making sure every Mainer truly gets access to high-speed internet. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that ACP reduced the subsidy needed to build in rural areas by 25%.
I hope Collins continues to demonstrate leadership on high-speed internet affordability and that our entire delegation works to fund this critical program.
Rep. David Woodsome
Appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Bangor Daily News and other newspapers