The Divide: Gigi Sohn on how the FCC could (still) save the ACP

This week: Gigi Sohn on the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program and a new petition asking the FCC to reconsider its Title II forbearance decision and reopen the door to assessing broadband revenues for the USF.

Nicole Ferraro, Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast

July 1, 2024

At a Glance

  • Details on a new petition filed with the FCC and implications for restoring an ACP benefit (05:38)
  • Ongoing regulatory hurdles to reforming the Universal Service Fund (USF) and funding the ACP (12:25)
  • Other federal and state-level avenues for restoring an ACP-like benefit (17:08)

In this episode, broadband advocate Gigi Sohn returns to the podcast, on behalf of the Affordable Broadband Campaign (ABC), to discuss the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and how to get a version of the ACP back through Universal Service Fund (USF) reform.

Specifically, we discuss a new petition, filed by the Affordable Broadband Campaign and WTA–Advocates for Rural Broadband, requesting that the FCC reconsider its forbearance decision in its Open Internet Order in order to potentially include broadband providers as contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF). Doing so, according to petitioners, could help shore up funds to support an ACP-like benefit under USF, rather than relying on Congress for appropriations.

"By reconsidering its forbearance decision in this proceeding, the Commission can better promote its congressionally mandated universal service obligations and ensure that all consumers, including low-income consumers, can afford to access this essential service," states the petition.

Still, with the Open Internet Order itself facing court challenges and an uncertain regulatory environment ahead, we also discuss other ways an ACP benefit could be restored at the federal or state level to help support broadband services for low-income households.

Related:How the FCC could save the Affordable Connectivity Program

Here are a few topics discussed in this episode:

  • Background on the Affordable Broadband Campaign (02:00)

  • Details on ABC's recent petition for the FCC to reconsider its forbearance decision as a way to restore the ACP (05:38)

  • Likelihood that the FCC will reconsider its forbearance decision and other regulatory challenges with going this route (12:25)

  • Other potential federal and state-level avenues for restoring an ACP-like benefit (17:08)

  • Impact of ACP's expiration on BEAD providers (27:26)

For a lightly edited transcript, click the caption on the podcast player. And here's where you can watch Sohn's May 2024 commencement speech at the UC Berkeley School of Information, referenced at (29:40).

Read more about:

The DivideACP

About the Author(s)

Nicole Ferraro

Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast, Light Reading

Nicole covers broadband, policy and the digital divide. She hosts The Divide on the Light Reading Podcast and tracks broadband builds in The Buildout column. Some* call her the Broadband Broad (*nobody).

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