Press Release

In Rochester, Ahead Of Funding Cliff, Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Fund The Affordable Connectivity Program, Lower The Cost Of High-Speed Internet

Feb 9, 2024

Without Additional Funding, Over 76,000 Low-Income Households in Monroe County May Lose Internet Access 

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Arnett Branch Library to announce the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, legislation to provide $7 billion in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal program that provides financial assistance to low-income households to help them afford high-speed internet. Over 1.7 million New York households – including over 76,000 in Monroe County – rely on the program, but it is set to run out of funding by April. Without additional funding, these families will either be forced to pay full price for internet – an unaffordable option for many – or lose access to broadband services entirely. The legislation would extend funding for the program and ensure that Rochester-area families can continue to afford the broadband services they need to work remotely, complete online coursework, attend telehealth appointments, and more. 

Gillibrand was joined by Patricia Uttaro, Director of the Rochester Public Library & Monroe County Library System; City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans; President & CEO of the Urban League of Rochester Dr. Seanelle Hawkins; and Assemblymember Demond Meeks.

Fast, reliable internet is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity for everyday life,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I helped establish the Affordable Connectivity Program as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make sure families across our state can work remotely, complete online coursework, access telehealth appointments, and more. With funding for this critical program set to run out in just a few months, I’m announcing this legislation to allocate more money for the ACP and help close the digital divide.” 

“The ongoing need for reliable and affordable internet access is witnessed every day in public libraries, as staff help people apply for jobs, complete schoolwork, and communicate with family and friends, and hundreds of portable internet Mifi devices are borrowed. Senator Gillibrand’s support of the Affordable Connectivity Program is a critical step to bringing that access home for people who need it,” said Patricia Uttaro, Director of the Rochester Public Library & Monroe County Library System.

“In today’s digital era, high-speed internet access isn’t just a luxury; it’s a fundamental necessity for success in work, education, and healthcare. Senator Gillibrand’s bold advocacy, securing $7 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), surpassing the White House request, is a commendable step toward closing the digital divide. By prioritizing connectivity, especially in underserved communities, Senator Gillibrand is championing equity and opportunity for all,” said Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, President & CEO of the Urban League of Rochester.

“All New Yorkers should have access to high-speed internet however too many families struggle to afford it. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a needed tool that provides Internet service at a more feasible cost for families and I am proud to advocate for its extension. This legislation allocates $7 billion for the ACP. Without an extension, millions of New Yorkers stand at risk of losing access to high-speed internet, including essential access to work, school, and healthcare services. The ACP provides a lifeline to these individuals, helping them overcome barriers to access and ensure that no one is left behind in the digital divide. Together with Senator Gillibrand, I am committed to advocating for affordable and accessible high-speed internet for all. By extending the Affordable Connectivity Program, we can create a more inclusive and equitable community where every family has the tools and resources they need to succeed in the digital era,” said Assemblyman Demond Meeks, 137th District.

“Access to fast, reliable broadband isn’t just a luxury, it’s become a necessity in our daily lives,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney, 56th District. “Whether it’s for work, school, or healthcare needs, the Affordable Connectivity Program has been a lifeline for underserved communities. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for leading the charge to keep this program intact and ensuring that all members of our community continue to have access to affordable internet.”

Established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP lowers the out-of-pocket cost of broadband service and devices for working families. The program provides a monthly discount of up to $30 per month off the cost of Internet service and equipment as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 off a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. In qualifying rural communities and qualifying Tribal lands, the monthly discount may be up to $75 per month. More information about the Affordable Connectivity Program is available here.