The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that its Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides discounts on broadband service and devices for eligible households, will end in April 2024 unless Congress extends it.
The ACP, which replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) in December 2021, offers a monthly discount of up to $30 for internet service and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Households on qualifying Tribal lands can receive up to $75 per month and $100 for a device.
The program aims to help low-income households access the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and other essential activities. According to the FCC, more than 20 million households have enrolled in the ACP as of January 2024.
However, the program is funded by a limited amount of $14.2 billion allocated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in November 2021. The FCC estimates that the funds will run out by April 2024, unless Congress provides additional funding or authorizes the program to continue beyond its current expiration date.
The FCC has urged consumers who are interested in the ACP to apply and enroll as soon as possible, as the program will stop accepting new applications and enrollments on February 7, 2024. Consumers must be approved and enrolled with a service provider by 11:59 p.m. ET on February 7 to receive the ACP benefit.
To be eligible for the ACP, a household must have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, or meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program
- Participates in one of these assistance programs: Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), WIC, Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits, or Lifeline
- Participates in one of these assistance programs and lives on qualifying Tribal lands: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Head Start, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Consumers can apply for the ACP online at GetInternet.gov, by mail, or by contacting a participating provider. A list of participating providers is available at the FCC website. Consumers can also call the ACP Support Center at (877) 384-2575 or email ACPSupport@usac.org for more information or assistance.
The FCC has also launched outreach programs to raise awareness of the ACP, especially among recipients of federal housing assistance and residents of rural and Tribal areas. The FCC has awarded grants to outreach partners, such as non-profit organizations, libraries, schools, and local governments, to help promote the program and assist consumers with the application process.
The FCC has also established a data collection program to monitor the price and subscription rates of internet service offerings received by households enrolled in the ACP. The data will help the FCC evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the program, as well as inform future policy decisions on broadband affordability.
The ACP is one of the FCC’s initiatives to address the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, affordable, and high-quality broadband. The FCC has also allocated funds for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, the Emergency Connectivity Fund, and the Connect America Fund, among others, to expand broadband infrastructure and connectivity across the country.