Governor McKee Launches Statewide Initiative to Increase Affordable Connectivity Program Adoption

Published on Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Coalition of local leaders and community partners will increase awareness of federal program that provides $30 per month towards high-speed home internet

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee today announced a statewide initiative to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a long-term benefit to help lower-income families pay for high-speed internet.

The ACP is a $14.2 billion federal broadband benefit funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month – up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands – and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. 173,369 Rhode Island households are eligible for the ACP, yet only 60,534 – 35 percent of those eligible – have enrolled.

In partnership with EducationSuperHighway, the national non-profit with a mission to close the broadband affordability gap, the governor’s initiative will build a coalition of local stakeholders and trusted institutions to overcome complex awareness, trust, and enrollment barriers that prevent households in the nation's most under-resourced communities from enrolling. Participants will include housing authorities, nonprofits, school districts, libraries, and internet service providers.

“No family in our state should worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries,” said Governor McKee. “The new Affordable Connectivity Program provides households with $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and a $100 discount on a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. We are committed to closing the digital divide by driving awareness of this vital program.”

“Reliable, accessible, and affordable internet is a necessity for everyday life, and we must eliminate economic barriers to obtaining a stable connection. By spreading the word about the ACP, we can ensure every Rhode Islander has full access to the economic and educational opportunities they deserve,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos.

“This 100 percent federally-funded program will improve access to high-speed internet, and I urge every eligible household to utilize these savings. I voted for these funds to help the state close the broadband affordability gap. I appreciate the Governor’s efforts to highlight this program and encourage more Rhode Islanders to apply. It is critical to make it easy for people to enroll so more households can get affordable and reliable internet service at home,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

“In this day and age, affordable, high-speed internet isn’t a luxury, but a necessity for everything from our kids’ schoolwork, to applying for jobs, or accessing government services and resources,” said U.S. Congressman David Cicilline. “We created the Affordable Connectivity Program, the largest high-speed internet affordability program in our nation’s history, to make sure that no one is left behind – no matter where they live or their paycheck. I encourage every Rhode Islander who qualifies to apply for this program.”

“In today’s economy, every household in Rhode Island must have access to a reliable, affordable internet connection,” said U.S. Congressman Seth Magaziner. “By raising awareness about these once-in-a-generation investments passed by Congressional Democrats under President Biden’s leadership, we can ensure that every RI family is able to take advantage of affordable broadband access across our state.”

ACP-eligible households include families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and those who qualify for Lifeline, SNAP, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch, WIC, and other government-funded programs. The new initiative will leverage state channels to directly promote the ACP to households in these programs and fund local governments, community-based organizations, and trusted institutions to reach unconnected households.

Combined with commitments by Internet Service Providers to deliver high-speed internet plans for no more than $30 per month, eligible households can receive high-speed internet at no cost by pairing their ACP benefit with one of these “free with ACP” broadband plans.

“Rhode Island is closing the digital divide by ensuring eligible households can get affordable access to high-speed broadband through the ACP,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “Governor McKee is making bold strides to increase economic opportunity and security for all families in his state.”

EducationSuperHighway will support statewide awareness efforts by training community leaders and partner organizations and providing outreach materials and tools to help households enroll. The non-profit recently launched, a virtual mobile assistant that simplifies the ACP enrollment process by providing real-time support to help eligible households determine the easiest way to qualify. The mobile website is available in four languages and helps applicants overcome critical barriers in the enrollment process by helping them identify the documents needed when applying and find “free with ACP” broadband plans available at their address.