For many, lacking access to affordable internet service remains a significant barrier to participating in the digital world. As more aspects of our lives rely on the internet — from education to employment to communication — it’s essential that everyone have the resources needed to get online. We’re thrilled that Congress will continue to allocate funding to affordable broadband service through the new Affordable Connectivity Program!
This new program will replace and update the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program created in early 2021. Spearheaded by the Federal Communications Commission, the EBB program received $3.2 billion of federal funding to make monthly broadband service bills more affordable for low-income households. For the Affordable Connectivity Program, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act increased this funding to $14.2 billion. While the ACP is not yet a permanent benefit program, this new funding will allow the program to continue for several years — offering a more stable discount to those who were hesitant to participate in the EBB program due to its temporary nature.
Like the EBB program, the ACP will provide a monthly discount to eligible households through their internet service provider. One major change is that the discount will decrease from $50 a month to $30. Households on qualifying Tribal lands will continue to receive up to $75 a month in discounts. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Enrollment for the ACP is now live at www.fcc.gov/acp. To qualify, households must have at least one member who meets any of the following criteria:
- Has an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines
- Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline
- Participates in Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program
For further details or application questions, we encourage consumers and social service providers to visit the FCC information page and read the Benton Institute’s comprehensive blog post detailing the program’s changes and guidelines. You can also watch and share the FCC’s short overview video.
Given the high costs of connectivity, the ACP could make a huge difference for families and adults struggling to use the internet for work, school, healthcare, and communication. At the same time, we recognize that internet access is only part of the problem. Internet users must be equipped with a device and digital skills to fully participate in the digital world. We’re motivated to spread the word about the ACP and help the newly connected get the most out of their internet connection!