I’m not revealing any news when I say Reliable internet connection for Home office, Continue to complete your studies And make us happy. But home internet service doesn’t come cheap. It can be so costly that some people simply can’t get in touch.
A temporary subsidy program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit was established in 2021 to help low-income households and people who lost income early in the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the administration replaced it with the Affordable Connectivity Plan, one of several broadband-focused initiatives in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021.
Like EBB, ACP is designed to help families afford the internet connection they need to keep up with a rapidly changing world. Those who qualify can get $30 off their monthly internet bill. For families on tribal lands, that amount can go up to $75 per month. As of September 4, more than 20.7 million households in the United States have signed up.
Many Internet service providers are committed to participating in the ACP. For example, the White House announced that providers across the United States have committed to delivering download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second for $30 or less. In total, more than 1,600 ISPs participate in ACP. You can check the Federal Communications Commission’s state-by-state list to determine which ISPs are available in your area. There is also a government website, whitehouse.gov/getinternet, that can help you learn the details of this benefit.
Let’s take a look at what else you need to know to take advantage of ACP.
1. Are you eligible for free internet?
Not everyone qualifies for the Affordable Connect program. It is designed to help low-income families afford broadband connections for schools, jobs, health care, utilities and other services. Therefore, at least one family member must meet the criteria for family participation.
First, if you or anyone in your household is involved federal lifeline program, you are also eligible to participate in the ACP. With the Lifeline plan, you can save over $9 per month on your Internet service (over $34 per month for those on tribal lands). Any funds from ACP will be an additional discount on the funds you receive through Lifeline. It also helps you skip a step, which I’ll describe shortly.
If you are not taking advantage of Lifeline, other plans may qualify you for ACP. If you or anyone in your household is currently enrolled in certain government assistance programs – including federal public housing assistance, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – You are also eligible to opt into ACP.
You can also qualify for ACP based on your income. Regardless of whether you participate in the above programs, your household will qualify if your income is less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level. How this breaks down:
ACP Eligibility: Gross Income
|family size||200% of the poverty line|
After eight o’clock, you can add $10,280 to the final amount for each additional person. Also, it should be noted that the numbers for Alaska and Hawaii are slightly higher. You can find these specific numbers on a chart on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Note that you need to multiply the number in the chart on this page by two to get the required “200% of the federal poverty level.”
Finally, other factors that make you eligible include:
- Participate in specific tribal programs including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Indian Reservation Food Distribution Program.
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
- Approval of free or reduced-price school lunch programs or school breakfast programs.
- Meet the eligibility requirements to participate in ISP’s existing low-income program.
If you meet any of the above criteria, you may also qualify for a one-time discount of up to $100 on a desktop, tablet, or laptop computer.
2. Can I “skip the queue”?
Remember how I talked about skipping a step when I mentioned the Lifeline program? If you are already a member of Lifeline, you can contact your ISP directly to register for ACP. You do not need to use the “Apply Now” button on the ACP website.
Likewise, if you are currently enrolled in your ISP’s low-income plan but not Lifeline, you may avoid using the ACP site. You must contact your ISP and make sure the FCC approves this step.
3. Do you have the documents?
If you can’t skip this step, be prepared to organize multiple documents. (Note: If you plan to apply by mail, do not send original documents, only copies.) The documents you will need include proof of income, including a tax return, pay stub, or Social Security benefit statement, or proof of program participation, including an approval letter, Benefit Verification Letter or Benefit Statement.
You can refer to the “Show You Qualifications” page of the ACP website for a complete list of acceptable documents.
4. Time to apply for ACP
There are three different ways you can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Plan. The first is to apply online. You can create a new account in ACP’s online application portal.
Your second option is to apply by mail. You must print and complete the application and send copies of required documents to the ACP Support Center, PO Box 9100, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773.
The third option is to contact your ISP directly and ask if it participates in the ACP. If so, it should be able to help you and guide you through any steps you need to complete the process.
If you choose to apply online, you may be approved immediately. If this is not the case, you may be asked to provide additional documentation before you can continue to receive your ACP discount. But once approved, you can move on to the final step.
5. Have you contacted your internet provider?
ACP is not a check you receive, but a discount on your internet bill. Therefore, you need to notify your ISP of your participation in ACP so that it can apply the discount to your monthly charges. This is also an opportunity to see if you can upgrade your internet package level and get faster speeds for less money.
Some ISPs participating in ACP
- AT&T: ACP benefits can be used with any AT&T Internet plan. AT&T’s Access is the company’s low-cost plan for households with limited incomes. It offers download speeds of up to 100Mbps and costs $30 per month, or is free to customers when combined with ACP.
- Cox: Cox has two different discount programs. Connect2Compete targets low- or fixed-income households. ConnectAssist targets low-income families without children. Qualifying customers can get a 100Mbps plan (which includes a free modem, nationwide Wi-Fi hotspot access and 1.25TB of data) for just $30 per month, which is fully covered by ACP benefits.
- mediacom: All ACP-eligible customers with Mediacom access can use this offer to receive discounts on Xtream Internet services. Mediacom also offers the Connect-2-Compete program to low-income families with at least one K-12 student and at least one child participating in the National School Lunch Program. It offers download speeds up to 25Mbps for $10 per month and 100Mbps for $30 per month. Both plans are free when combined with ACP benefits.
- optimal: Optimum Advantage Internet plans include eligibility for seniors or households with anyone enrolled in the NSLP. No-contract internet plans include a router, modem, free installation and unlimited data with download speeds up to 50Mbps for $15 per month. When combined with ACP benefits, participants receive free Internet service.
- spectrum: Charter’s cable Internet service is participating in ACP, and eligible customers can take advantage of the discount on all Spectrum Internet plans. It’s also worth noting that Spectrum offers ACP customers a 100Mbps package that includes Wi-Fi, modem, and self-installation for $30 per month. This means eligible ACP customers can receive broadband services for free.
- Star Internet: The ACP offer is available on any Starry Internet service plan, but the company’s affordable Internet plan, Starry Connect, comes with 30Mbps download and upload speeds and comes with full ACP discounts. The same goes for its Starry Select plan, which offers download speeds of 100Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps.
- Verizon: Verizon customers (including Verizon 5G Home Internet and Verizon Wireless) can take advantage of ACP benefits if they qualify for the program. Some Verizon customers can use ACP benefits to get free Internet service through the company’s Fios Forward and Verizon Forward plans. Customers on Verizon Fios 500Mbps or Gigabit plans can also take advantage of discounted service with ACP.
- unlimited: Comcast has long offered an affordable plan called “Internet Essentials” aimed at low-income households. It offers download speeds of up to 50Mbps, requires no contract, and pays $10 per month to get a free device. Now, ACP participants can also take advantage of Internet Essentials Plus, which doubles download speeds to 100Mbps and includes the same terms (no credit check, no contract, and free equipment) for $30 per month, or to ACP Free to customers.
notes: This is not an exhaustive list. To determine whether ISPs in your area participate in the ACP, see the FCC’s state-by-state list of ACP participants.
6. Don’t overlook these last details
Your household cannot receive ACP discounts from multiple ISPs, nor can you obtain multiple discounts within the same household. Doing so will disqualify you from receiving further assistance or benefits through ACP.
Additionally, you must notify your ISP or ACP if you are no longer eligible for the benefit. Therefore, if you no longer participate in a qualified assistance program or your income exceeds the poverty level, you must take action within 30 days of the change.
If you have any additional questions about the Affordable Connectivity Plan, please call the ACP Support Center at 877-384-2575.