One of the programs stemming from the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act is the relatively new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This benefits program replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, a funding source for low-income households providing discounts for internet services. Here is an explanation of the differences to give the best information before enrolling.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created this program to assist households and families struggling to afford internet access, an inexpensive solution. The program aimed to connect qualifying participants to schools for virtual classrooms, critical healthcare, and other essential services by providing discounts to make services more reasonable. Participants would receive a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband services, with households on qualifying Tribal lands benefiting from a value of $75. In addition, each qualifying home was eligible for a discount of up to $100 toward a purchase of a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, meeting the criteria of contributing an amount greater than $10 and not exceeding $50.
Eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program requires a member of the household to meet one of the criteria below:
During the program, the FCC provided a lengthy list of providers participating in the EBB. The type of support available for mobile internet, fixed internet, or both depends on the provider’s state or region.
The Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is available for up to six months after the declaration of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a permanent replacement for the EBB. There are some differences to note in the new program. The ACP allows qualifying participants a discount of up to $30 monthly for broadband services. It is less than the original EBB discount, but the initial $75 for those who live on Tribal lands remains the same. The one-time device discount of $100 is the same and applies to one per household.
Households with incomes of 135% or less of the federal poverty level were eligible for the EBB program. The new ACP program allows families with incomes up to 200% of the national poverty level, a significant difference. For instance, a household of 3 with an income of up to $44,000 can claim the ACP discount. There is an automatic conversion to the new ACP plan for those eligible for EBB and ACP. It is important to note that some eligible households who are unemployed due to COVID-19 and are suitable for EBB may not qualify for the new plan.
To enroll in the ACP program, visit AffordableConnectivity.gov to fill out and submit an application. Printing the application and returning it by mail is also an option. Providing official documentation proving eligibility will be necessary. Documents must include the following:
School documentation, a benefit award or verification letter, or a statement of benefits are all examples of documents necessary for new applications.
Finding an affordable internet plan is now a possibility for many households thanks to the new ACP emergency internet benefit program. The advantage of access to the World Wide Web makes it possible for low-income families to connect with essential services. Contact enTouch Wireless today for more information on the best devices and service plans available.