In January 2022, the FCC approved eventual mandatory broadband labels to promote transparency between internet providers and customers. What does that mean for you, the consumer? Find out more here!
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Is Now the Affordable Connectivity Program
We need internet access. Without it, the odds of being able to successfully navigate financial, governmental or social infrastructures are slim. It’s possible for families or individuals without access to the internet (during the pandemic, especially) to suffer from an inability to complete imperative digital tasks such as paying bills, finding jobs, engaging in schoolwork or monitoring email accounts. In an effort to make sure that internet access is provided to every home, the Federal Communications Commission activated the Affordable Connectivity Program on March 1, 2022. Read more about it below.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
- What Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Include?
- Do I Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
- What Is the Difference Between EBB and ACP?
- When Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Begin?
- What if I’m Already Enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
- Which Internet Service Providers Will Participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program?
- How Do I Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
- Affordable Connectivity Program FAQ
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a modified extension of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program which provides financial assistance to eligible households for the purpose of internet subscription access. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program was scheduled to stop accepting applications on December 31, 2021, and officially switched to the Affordable Connectivity Program on March 1, 2022. See below for updated benefit and eligibility parameters.
What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
As we learned during the pandemic, internet access is now one of the most quintessential needs for most households. Aside from being able to fulfill social needs, we also depend on the internet for necessary online infrastructures which include things like email, job postings, school materials, remote work and more. Unfortunately, some folks who are disadvantaged may be unable to afford a monthly internet subscription and may therefore find it difficult to navigate the digitally reliant necessities of life. This phenomenon is called the “digital divide,” and it refers to the gap between those who have access to technology (which benefits those who have it) and those who do not have access to technology (which has become an increasingly insurmountable deficit).
During the pandemic, the government created a program to ensure that the digital divide did not force disadvantaged citizens into even deeper isolation. In May 2021, the Federal Communications Commission enabled the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) to help financially insecure citizens attain or regain internet access in their homes. Due to changes in the trajectory in the pandemic, though, this program also changed. As of December 31st, 2021, the EBB program is no longer accepting participants. Instead, this program has been replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
The ACP provides eligible households with financial assistance towards a subscription for broadband internet services. It is designed to help financially insecure citizens afford an internet connection, which may in turn decrease the digital divide in the United States. This program is a product of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act), which allots $14.2 billion to modify and extend the life of the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. The ACP is being carried out by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Participants must meet at least one of the qualification requirements in order to receive these benefits, and they must apply to the program to get started. Find more information about how you can get started below.
What Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Include?
Internet Subscription Assistance
The ACP provides $30 per month per participating household to be put towards internet service. To be clear, this is $20 less than the maximum $50 subsidy that was allotted to participants in the EBB program. For participants living on Tribal lands, the maximum benefit remains at $75.
Internet-Enabled Device Assistance
Participants also qualify for discounted devices which can be used to access an internet connection. Qualified households can receive a one-time discount of $100 to go toward the purchase of a desktop computer, laptop or tablet from a participating provider. This discount is available for devices to which the participant contributes more than $10 but less than $50.
Do I Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
There are several criteria that a household can meet in order to be eligible for ACP benefits. A “household” is defined as a group of people who live together at the same physical location while sharing money earned by members of the household. In order to qualify for the ACP, at least one household member must meet at least one of the eligibility criteria. These include:
- Having an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines
- Participating in some assistance programs such as Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SNAP, WIC, SSI or Lifeline
- Participating in Tribal-specific programs, including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or Tribal TANF
- Being approved to receive free and reduced-price school lunch program or school breakfast program benefits, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-20, 2020-21 or 2021-22 school year
- Having received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meeting the eligibility for a participating providers’ existing low-income program
What Is the Difference Between EBB and ACP?
Although the ACP is meant to be a modified continuation of the EBB program, there are a few significant changes and things to know. They include:
- The maximum allowed discount of $50 will be decreasing to $30 with the ACP. (The maximum amount of $75 for participants in Tribal lands, however, will not change.)
- Instead of qualifying for the program by being at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, the ACP will allow participants to qualify by being at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Anyone who qualified for the EBB program due to substantial financial loss or furlough through February 29, 2020, will need to requalify for the ACP.
- Participants who also qualified for a participating provider’s COVID-19 program will also need to requalify for the ACP.
If you’re interested in seeing what the original EBB guidelines were, check out our informational page about the details of EBB.
When Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Begin?
The ACP benefit dispersal began on March 1, 2022. If you want to apply, it is still possible! The ACP application portal on the Lifeline National Verifier is open for enrollment. To begin, see the section below about how to apply.
What if I Was Already Enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
All participants who were enrolled in the EBB program by December 31, 2021, should have continued to receive their benefits through March 1, 2022. If you were still in need of internet assistance beyond March 1, 2022, you must apply to the ACP in order to receive uninterrupted benefits. In other words, you must requalify for the ACP in order to continue receiving benefits toward your internet subscription. As a side note, if you’d like to participate in this program, you’ll also need to requalify for benefits through the ACP even if you previously participated in an internet provider’s COVID-19 program.
Once again, it should be noted that if your allowance was $50 under EBB, your new max allowance will be $30 under ACP. If your max allotment was $75 due to your residence on Tribal lands, this amount should remain the same under the ACP.
Which Internet Service Providers Will Participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program?
National Broadband keeps an updated list of participating providers so you don’t have to keep up with who can help you find affordable internet. Just give us a call today, and we’d be happy help you get started!
How Do I Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
Step 1: Apply Online or Through the Mail
Once you know if you meet the program requirements, your first step is to apply to the federal ACP program. To do so, you can fill out the form online (linked below) or submit relevant forms to the following address:
ACP Support Center
PO Box 7081
London, KY 40742
Here are links to the paperwork you’ll need to send in English and in Spanish.
Step 2: Save Money
Once your application has been approved for the ACP, we can help you choose the best provider for you! We’ll help you find an updated list of participating providers in your area when you call us for an individualized consultation. In doing so, we’ll find you the best available service to apply your ACP benefit to!
Frequently asked questions
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a program created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that fewer American citizens are without an internet connection. Benefits from this program include a $30 discount on broadband internet access (or up to $75 for eligible homes on Tribal lands). The dispersal of these funds is subject to eligibility and approval by the FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). See the section called, "What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?" on this page for more information.
What happened to the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program?
The EBB program was officially replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) on March 1, 2022. As of December 31, 2021, the EBB program stopped accepting applications for new participants. Despite the transition, the EBB program still provided assistance to enrolled participants from December 31, 2021, through March 1, 2022. See the section above entitled, "How Do I Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program?" to learn more about how to apply for the ACP.
Who is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
There are a variety of criteria which can qualify a household for the ACP, and qualifying involves having at least one household member meet at least one of the criteria. You can find the list of eligibility options within this post under the section entitled, "Do I Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?"
Which internet providers can I use if I am eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
There are several providers who can offer an internet subscription to ACP participants. Call us at National Broadband for an updated list along with recommendations for the best options in your area. Just call the number at the top of this page!
What qualifies as a "household" according to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
According to the ACP, a household is established by a group of people who share both a physical living location and financial resources. Furthermore, a whole household can qualify for the ACP as long as one member of the household is eligible for the program. You can find the list of eligibility options within this post under the section entitled, "Do I Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?"
What are the rules must I follow to be included in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
Only eligible individuals and households may receive ACP discounts, limited to one discount per household. The ACP service discount is non-transferable. For an idea of who qualifies for this program, visit the section above entitled, "Do I Qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?"
Can Lifeline benefits be combined with Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) discounts?
Yes. You can continue to receive Lifeline benefits from your current provider while getting ACP service from an authorized ACP provider.
Can I choose my Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provider?
Yes, as long as you live in an eligible service area for that approved provider. Call National Broadband at the number on this page to get help with which participating ACP provider will be able to service your home.
How do I sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
First, fill out the National Verifier form here. Once you have been approved, call National Broadband to find the internet available in your area that can provide you with the best deal and complete your redemption of the ACP discount.
What services does the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) cover?
The ACP discount applies to monthly fees for broadband internet and modem rental. For a limited time, qualified individuals or households may receive a $30/month federal subsidy ($75/month in tribal lands), and the level of subsidy may depend on the rate of the internet service you choose after being approved.
If I was already on the EBB subsidy program, can I apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
Yes. Fill out the National Verifier form here to achieve participation approval for the ACP, and then call National Broadband for a personalized consultation about available ACP services in your area.