Opinion: Affordable Internet Is a Necessity in Modern World

In celebration of the upcoming Independence Day on July 4th, it is important to remember the historical significance of the Declaration of Independence and the mutual pledge of solidarity made by its signers in 1776. This pledge served as the foundation of America’s strength as a free country composed of diverse individuals, who are bound together by a shared national pride and a determination to defend their lands and freedoms.

Beyond recognizing our shared history, it is equally crucial to acknowledge our collective responsibility to ensure that all American citizens have access to essential aspects of American life, including education, employment, and healthcare. In today’s digital age, broadband access has become a critical necessity, particularly in light of the pandemic, when online access became essential for schooling, work, and healthcare.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), launched in December 2021, aimed to provide modest subsidies to qualifying families and Tribal groups, enabling them to secure consistent broadband access. By February 2022, the ACP had enrolled more than 23 million households across rural, suburban, and urban America, providing a significant closure of the digital divide.

The success of the ACP highlighted the necessity of internet access and its positive impacts on the lives of those living on the margins. Moreover, it demonstrated that a nationwide program was required to provide consistent internet access to many families who had previously lacked it. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asserts that the ACP filled an important gap that could not be fully addressed by existing low-income programs, state and local affordability programs, and the FCC’s more limited Lifeline program.

The FCC is hopeful that the ACP can be restored, as there is strong bipartisan support for closing the digital divide. Officials at the state and local level, including in Ohio, are encouraged to take this issue seriously and explore ways to make broadband access more consistently and reliably available to all who need it but cannot afford it without assistance. This is essential to ensuring that the American dream, which hinges on opportunities for hard work and education, remains accessible to all Americans.

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