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What is the ACP Program?

The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps households afford and access the broadband internet connectivity they need for work, school, healthcare and more essential needs.

Increasing accessibility to the internet and removing barriers to entry has never been more important. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government created a program to make bring online connectivity within reach for eligible households for whom it would otherwise be unaffordable, heavily subsidizing the cost of broadband service and the purchase price for devices that could help people connect to jobs, essential healthcare, virtual classrooms and more.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the program has evolved to address ongoing needs for online accessibility and to extend support to households who are in need.

When and Why did the ACP Replace the EBB?

Designed as a permanent extension of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, the Affordable Connectivity Program replaced the EBB on December 31, 2021. Congress mandated the creation of the ACP as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which became law in November 2021.

The ACP continues to provide eligible households with a discount on broadband services and connected devices, but with changes from the EBB such as program eligibility criteria and the program benefit amount. The new law also gave express authorization to the FCC to conduct outreach for the ACP, including grand provision to outreach partners, to increase awareness of the ACP, specifically among recipients of federal housing assistance.

Who Is Eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

According to the FCC, a household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • 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, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
    • SNAP
    • Medicaid
    • Federal Housing Assistance, including:
      • Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program (Section 8 Vouchers)
      • Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)/Section 202/ Section 811
      • Public Housing
      • Affordable Housing Programs for American Indians, Alaska Natives or Native Hawaiians
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • WIC
    • Veterans Pension, Survivor Benefits or Lifeline
  • Participates in one of these assistance programs and lives on Qualifying Tribal lands:
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    • Tribal TANF
    • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    • Tribal Head Start (income based)

How Does The ACP Protect Consumers?

The ACP is meant to make broadband accessible and affordable for those in need, and that means removing barriers to entry. The FCC rules to protect ACP recipients include:

  • Empowering consumers to choose the service plan that best meets their needs (including a plan they may already be on)
  • Ensuring consumers have access to supported broadband services regardless of their credit status
  • Prohibiting providers from excluding consumers with past due balances or prior debt from enrolling in the program
  • Preventing consumers from being forced into more expensive or lower quality plans in order to receive the ACP
  • Ensuring that consumers are not liable for early termination fees
  • Reducing the potential for bill shock or other financial harms
  • Allowing ACP recipients to switch providers or broadband service offerings; and
  • Providing a dedicated FCC process for ACP complaints