October 26, 2023 – President Joe Biden’s Wednesday request for Congress to appropriate $6 billion to continue the Affordable Connectivity Program into December 2024 was met with support from public interest groups.
“Kudos to the White House for including $6 billion in the domestic supplemental for the Affordable Connectivity Program, the monthly broadband subsidy for low-income, tribal and high cost households,” said Gigi Sohn, internet advocate and former nominee for commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission.
Sohn underlined the importance of connecting Americans to the internet and suggested that long term, the ACP may be sustained by folding it into the FCC’s Universal Service Fund.
David Dowart, chair of the National Lifeline Association, a non-profit focused on sustaining the USF’s Lifeline fund, recognized the impact the ACP has.
“Without such support, more than 21 million households would face the grim prospect of losing access to affordable mobile and fixed broadband solutions essential to full participation in our society and economy,” said Dowart.
That sentiment was echoed by Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at internet advocate Public Knowledge, adding that, “We are grateful that today, the Biden Administration demonstrated its commitment to closing the digital divide by urging Congress to appropriate $ 6 billion to keep the program afloat throughout 2024.”
Leventoff added that $6 billion may not be quite enough to sustain the program and urged Congress to appropriate $7 billion.
Biden announces semiconductor tech hubs
The Biden administration announced Monday the designation of 31 regional tech manufacturing and innovation hubs, four of which will be focused solely on semiconductor manufacturing.
The four hubs focusing on regional semiconductor production are located in Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, New York and Vermont.
The Tech Hubs Program will “focus on developing and growing innovative industries in regions across the country” and was authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, which provides nearly $53 billion to semiconductor research and manufacturing.
Industry experts have been vocal about the positive impacts of the CHIPS Act, noting that semiconductor manufacturing has largely benefited from the investment.
State officials from New York and Arizona have pointed to the investment into the semiconductor industry as having created jobs and added needed support to supply operations.
New York invests in emergency communications
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that the state will invest $55 million across 57 counties and New York City to upgrade the state’s emergency communication systems and public safety answering points.
The State Interoperable Communications Formula Grant, which aims to reduce gaps in communications between emergency service providers, will provide $45 million .
The remaining $10 million will come from Public Safety Answering Point Operations Grant, which goes toward funding the development of Next Generation 911 technology, an updated emergency response system software, and geographic information system data software that it relies on.
“Public safety is my number one priority here in New York State, and I’m proud to announce this year’s round of funding to enhance communication systems that help our emergency responders work more efficiently,” Hochul said.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray added that, “It’s critical first responders have the equipment and infrastructure they need to maintain clear communication during times of crisis and this funding plays a key role in these efforts.”