Opportunities Unlocked With a Low-Cost Connectivity Program
Low-income households can get monthly discounts on their internet service through a federal program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
ACP is part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to close the digital divide. It replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB).
ACP helps eligible households access broadband by offering a discount on their internet bill. This discount can be used to pay for internet service from any participating broadband provider.
What is the ACP?
The Affordable Connectivity Program, formerly known as the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), provides eligible households with discounts on their broadband service. It can help families pay for the fast, reliable internet they need to connect to jobs, healthcare, schools, and more – especially now that faster speeds are more important than ever.
The Federal Communications Commission created the ACP to make internet services more affordable for low-income households. Eligible households receive a discount on their monthly service or can purchase a device at a reduced cost.
To be eligible, households must be enrolled in a federal or state low-income program and have household incomes below a certain level. To apply, household members must show a card, letter, or official document from one of these programs when they submit their ACP application.
In addition, ACP participants must submit data to the Commission for the Affordable Connectivity Program Transparency Data Collection. The Infrastructure Act requires the Commission to collect data on the price and subscription rate of “each internet service offering of a participating provider” to which an eligible household subscribes. In the ACP Data Collection Notice,87 FR 37459, June 23, 2022, the Commission sought comment on whether to collect this information at the subscriber level or aggregate level.
Some commenters argue that collecting this data at the aggregate level is unnecessary. However, the Commission agrees that this collection would provide critical information for evaluating the utility of the ACP and progress toward reducing the digital divide.
Additionally, it would allow the Commission to understand better the impact of the ACP on consumers’ ability to afford services. It also would enable the Commission to evaluate whether there are any limitations on how ACP subscribers use broadband, including their reliance on non-ACP promotions and discounts.
Lastly, the Commission seeks comments on how it can best collect the data it needs to track progress toward the goals outlined in the ACP Order. The Commission directed the Bureau to explore possible approaches proposed by commenters, such as statistical sampling or industry or consumer surveys. This data could allow the Commission to assess better the progress made by the ACP and identify areas where additional investments may be needed.
How do I qualify for the ACP?
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to assist qualified households in maintaining their internet connection. The Oklahoma Lifeline Unlimited Plan program offers qualifying homeowners a monthly internet service discount to help pay the cost of their broadband services, as well as a one-time purchase of up to $100 toward buying an internet-capable device such as a tablet or laptop.
ACP eligibility is based on your gross annual household income. If your household’s yearly income is below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, you’re eligible for the ACP. You’ll need to submit documentation that proves your income, including pay stubs, tax returns, Social Security statements, and other evidence.
If you need clarification on whether you qualify, visit the USAC website to review the income eligibility chart. You can also contact your local USAC office or call their toll-free number for assistance.
Eligible households can apply for the ACP through their Internet provider. If your provider participates in the ACP, they’ll notify you when you are approved and give you an Application ID number.
You can then use this number with your Internet provider to receive a discount on your internet bill. Some providers will even give you free access to their online bill payment portal, which makes it easier to view your statement and pay bills.
After you’ve been approved, you’ll need to choose a high-speed broadband plan that meets your needs. You can choose from various techniques, with many providers offering programs with 30Mbps download speeds.
If you need more speed, consider a higher-tier plan that can save you money. Whether you need to watch TV or share photos with friends and family, fast internet is essential for all your activities.
How do I apply for the ACP?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is designed to help low-income households afford broadband connections for school, work, and other services. To apply for the ACP, you need to meet a few criteria.
First, you need to know your household’s income level. It can be done using the ACP application or by your internet provider.
To be eligible for the ACP, your household’s income must be below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). You can use a government benefit, such as SNAP or Medicaid, to prove that you have enough money to pay for internet service.
You may also be eligible if your household has a dependent child or other family members who participates in the free and reduced-price lunch program, are enrolled in a USDA Community Eligibility Provision school, or receives a Pell Grant for the current year.
If you have any questions about whether your household is eligible, contact the Affordable Connectivity Program at nycconnectall.com or call 1-888-827-5601.
Once you have verified that your household is eligible for the ACP, you’ll need proof of your income. It can be a tax return, a pay stub, or a Social Security statement.
Another way to prove that you are eligible is by providing a letter from your employer or other agency stating that you are in a low-income household. This paper must have been published within the previous 12 months.
A list of eligible documentation is available on the ACP website’s Show You Qualify page.
The next step is to complete the ACP application and submit it to your internet company. They will verify that your application is valid and give you credit toward your bill if you qualify for the ACP discount.
Many participating Internet providers offer ACP discounts on all or part of their service plan. If you need help determining which provider provides the ACP discount, talk to your internet provider about your options.
The ACP is a replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which ran from February 29, 2020, to March 1, 2022. Households that received the EBB discount will be automatically transferred to the ACP when they re-qualify. They will be notified by their internet provider or the USAC in January 2022 and given 30 days to respond.
What are the benefits of the ACP?
With more people working from home and receiving telehealth services than ever before, reliable home internet is vital for healthcare, jobs, schools, and so much more. Fortunately, low-income households can now get assistance paying for broadband service and connected devices through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit and is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Eligible households receive an internet bill discount of up to $30 per month through participating providers. In addition, families living on qualifying Tribal lands can obtain up to $75 per month in discounted internet service through participating providers and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop or desktop computer.
To help consumers better understand the ACP, the FCC has created an ACP consumer outreach toolkit that includes infographics, fact sheets, and handouts. In addition, ACP representatives are available to answer questions and help clients complete their applications.
The ACP application is easy to complete and can be completed online. During the application process, you will need to provide two types of documents. The first is a document showing your identity, and the second offers proof of your eligibility.
You can also print the ACP application and household worksheet from the FCC website and mail them to the ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742. Be sure to include a valid email address in your mailing to receive essential updates from ACP.
Once you have your application, you can contact a participating provider to select a plan. Once you choose a plan, your ACP discount will be applied to your bill.
Your ACP benefits will be valid for as long as you qualify. You must notify your internet provider within 30 days if you no longer qualify.
The ACP is free to enroll in and only takes a few minutes. However, you may be asked to provide proof of your eligibility or credit history. Be sure to provide accurate information.
Many internet providers participate in the ACP, including landline and wireless services. You can find out which providers are in your area and offer the ACP discount by visiting the ACP Consumer FAQ page.