During times of crisis, the capacity to stay connected has been proven crucial. This essential resource is vital for employment, school, and contact with loved ones. However, many low-income homes have difficulty accessing the internet, particularly during the COVID-19 epidemic. The Affordable Connectivity Program comes into play in this situation. The government ensures that everyone, regardless of their financial level, has access to broadband and internet services by offering this program.
This article serves as the guide to the Affordable Connectivity Program’s specifics, keeping you informed and updated. Continue reading to find out more!
What Is The Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a government initiative that provides affordable connected services to low-income families. Administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and launched on December 31, 2021, it has since helped connect millions of people to the services they need. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people are now working and learning from home.
Here are some numbers from the program that may surprise you:
- 14.2 billion dollars has been provided to this program by the Infrastructure Act.
- 10 million households have participated in this program to date.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is open to qualifying individuals nationwide.
What Are The ACP Benefits?
The Affordable Connectivity Program offers a variety of benefits for its participants. These benefits can help reduce your monthly phone bill, get free or discounted cellular service, etc. Additionally, the ACP can help you connect to government services and resources and provide you with access to educational opportunities.
There are several benefits to the Affordable Connectivity Program, including:
- Affordable rates: The Affordable Connectivity Program offers affordable cell phone service to low-income families. This is a great way to help bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone has access to their services.
- Easy enrollment: Enrolling in the Affordable Connectivity Program is easy and can be done.
If you struggle to pay your monthly phone bill, the Affordable Connectivity Program may be a good option.
Read more: What Are ACP Benefits?
When Did EBB Transfer To ACP?
The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program became the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) on December 31, 2021. On Nov 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed, resulting in this modification. While the EBB was a one-time initiative to deliver low-cost internet, the new ACP has a $14.2 billion budget and will be a longer-term benefit for qualifying households.
So, what changes from EBB to ACP:
- For homes not situated on qualified Tribal grounds, the maximum monthly payment will reduce from $50 to $30.
- Households can now qualify for the ACP in additional ways, including getting WIC assistance or earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
- You will either remain on your plan without the ACP subsidy after the program’s conclusion or terminate your internet-related services with your provider. They will offer you the option to make this decision at the start of your ACP enrollment and again before completing the program.
How Long Will the Affordable Connectivity Program Last?
While the EBB was a temporary program targeting low-income households during COVID-19, the ACP is a long-term program. As of now, the FCC hasn’t declared an end date for ACP.
Affordable Connectivity Program Eligibility: Who Qualifies?
A household will meet the Affordable Connectivity Program eligibility if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
- Joins any Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
- Participates in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
How Do I Sign Up For This Program?
- To apply online or visit print a mail-in application, go to ACPBenefit.org.
- Contact your chosen partnering provider to choose a plan and have the savings added to your statement.
Some suppliers may want you to fill out a separate application.
Eligible families must fill out an application and contact a partnering provider to choose a service package.
Is The ACP Provider Important In This Program?
Probably. There are more than a thousand different home and ACP providers, ranging from large nationwide telecom corporations to regional providers. You can check it out on the ACP’s website. Fortunately, finding out if your firm offers this monthly discount is as simple as entering your Zip code into AirTalk Wireless.
Some of these ACP providers are still offering cheap or even free devices—such as cellphones or tablets—to assist you in getting online. However, obtaining some of that complimentary technology might be complicated, and it necessitates direct communication with your service provider.
Affordable Connectivity Program FAQs
Here are some common questions about ACP that you may need:
What is the National Verifier?
The National Verifier is the U.S. government’s application system to verify applicants’ eligibility for various benefit programs. The National Verifier uses various data from federal agencies and commercial data services to determine whether someone is eligible for benefits.
Is ACP the same as the Lifeline Program?
Both programs are administered by the federal government and aim to make communication services more affordable for low-income households. They are two different programs.
Established in 1985, Lifeline is a permanent government assistance program that provides discounts on telephone and broadband services for low-income households.
Meanwhile, ACP is a relatively new program that began in 2021. It aims to provide underserved communities with access to the internet.
You can combine the benefits of both programs using the same or different service plans.
Is The Affordable Connectivity Program Permanent?
ACP is a long-term government benefit program. Once you are eligible for the program, your benefits will continue for as long as you qualify as a participant in the program.
The program is also committed to providing this vital service for years to come.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a great way to receive affordable broadband and internet service, and it’s available to individuals that meet the program’s eligibility requirements. ACP helps level the playing field and create opportunities for all by providing this essential service. With ACP, everyone can stay connected to who and what matters most.