Business as Usual = Excellent 2023 ACA Connects Summit

That it was business as usual may have been the biggest testament to the success of the 2023 ACA Connects Summit. After a pause of the live event for the past few years and a change in leadership, a hiccup or two wouldn’t have been surprising for this annual education event organized by ACA Connects. From an outsider’s view, it went off without a hitch and was as valuable as ever for attendees.

Grant Spellmeyer, ACA Connects CEO, heard similar feedback from attendees, as he touches upon in the above interview.  The multi-day event included appearances by former FCC Chair, Ajit PaiCalix CEO, Michael Weening, and Senator Ben Ray  Luján (D-N.M.). Spellmeyer points to Luján’s desire to work on a bipartisan basis to ensure everyone has access to and can afford broadband.

One of the areas that will need bipartisanship is funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is projected to run out of funds later this year or in early 2024.¹ With some 75% of ACA members providing access to this funding and some 18.4 million subscribers enrolled overall, a disruption to this program would have a significant impact on the subscribers currently receiving either $30 or $75 (Tribal) discounts.²

Spellmeyer is hopeful that lawmakers will find bipartisan solutions to challenges like ACP, BEAD funding, and other issues impacting the rollout of broadband to rural areas. Given the recent bipartisan debt ceiling agreement this bodes well for working together to find solutions. On the other hand, could some of the spending limits in that bill inhibit what can be done to renew discretionary programs, such as the ACP?

Speaking of new programs, NCTC’s announcement of its MVNO deal with Reach coincided with the ACA Connects Summit. NCTC’s new initiatives, which promise growth for the members and NCTC, excite Spellmeyer.

Finally, he touches upon the opportunity to gather and learn at next month’s 2023 Independent Show in Minneapolis.

ViodiTV coverage of the 2023 ACA Connects’ Summit courtesy of Calix.

¹ Former Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly makes the argument that the ACP is an efficient way to help bridge the digital divide in his article, “A conservative case for the Affordable Connectivity Program,” published in The Hill on 02/02/23.

² It is important to note that this program continues to grow, as, at the time of the interview in late February, there were approximately 16.4M enrolled households.

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