Thankfully, the U.S. federal government enacted the Affordable Connectivity Program – commonly referred to as the ACP. The purpose of this nationwide program is to enable larger number of households to be able to obtain and use modern high-speed internet service. Thanks to this government program and the participation of most internet service provider companies, millions of more Americans will be able to afford and benefit from high-speed internet. As a matter of fact, many households will be able to get their high-speed internet service for free through the ACP, as will be discussed below.
The prior program which helped people get affordable internet access was called the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. It was a temporary program that was part of the corona stimulus benefits and now has been replaced by the ACP. This new program is supposed to be a permanent one and allows more people to be eligible than the EBB.
One way to qualify for the ACP is by showing that the household does not exceed a maximum income level. That level is set at or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline, which equates to the following approximate maximum annual incomes:
– For a household of one: $27,000
– For a household of two: $37,000
– For a household of three: $46,000
– For a household of four: $56,000
An extra $9,100 in income is allowed for each additional individual in the household. Also, Federal poverty income limits are higher in Alaska or Hawaii.
Another way to qualify for the ACP is by being an existing recipient of certain other benefit programs, including:
– Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
– Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
– Federal Public Housing Assistance,
– Free or low-cost school meals
– Student aid in the form of federal Pell grants
Both the government and the internet industry recognize that true high-speed internet offers at least around 100Mbps download speed. It is at this speed that a family of four can all effectively use the internet at the same time and that the household can properly download or stream high quality video content and utilize online communication services, such as Skype.
The ACP provides a $30 per month benefit to eligible households. Because 20 internet service providers are offering true high-speed internet access for no more than $30 a month to all U.S. households that qualify and are approved for the ACP – these household will effectively be able to get access for free.
Among the 20 providers that are offering all ACP-eligible families at least one true high-speed plan for $30 a month or less are huge carriers, including AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications and Verizon. The service must provide download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps). These 20 providers collectively offer high-speed internet in areas where more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives.
– Go to ACPBenefit.org to submit an application online. You can also call 877-384-2575 to ask to have a paper application (with a paid return envelope)
sent to you.
– Provide documentation proving your eligibility online by uploading copies of them or sending in physical copies via mail.
– Properly completed online applications can be approved within minutes after submission.
Once your application is approved, you can contact a participating internet service provider to enact your discount. The discount will be applied to your bill; you won’t receive any money directly and your discount can’t be worth more than the amount of your monthly bill.
“Upselling” and similar tactics are prohibited. Provider companies can’t force customers to take more expensive plans or steer them away from cheaper ones. Requiring extra services or equipment or prohibitive sign-up or installation fees are prohibited. Full transparency from the provider companies is required, including clear and detailed disclosure of accurate download and upload speeds, all monthly costs including taxes and any equipment fees.