The FCC’s “Affordable Connectivity Program” Provides a $30 Monthly Internet Credit
The FCC has rebranded and changed some of the details on the broadband internet subsidy that was launched last year that has now been claimed by over 10 million households. The new program, with $14 billion in new funding from Congress through the infrastructure bill passed last November, is called the ‘Affordable Connectivity Program‘, and it is fully live. The good news: more Americans are eligible for the monthly credit/subsidy, as the maximum income level for eligibility was increased. Update: with a partnership with 20 ISPs offering discounted service, eligible households can now get free high-speed internet with the subsidy. The bad news: the subsidy has decreased from $50 to $30 per month for most eligible households.
You may remember that the FCC launched a $50 internet subsidy last year called the “Emergency Broadband Benefit” to qualifying American households in an effort to expand high speed internet access and affordability to lower income households. The combined $9.2 billion in funding for the program was allocated as a COVID-19 relief measure through the 2nd COVID relief bill and the American Rescue Plan passed last March. In addition to the new subsidy funding, the infrastructure bill also adds roughly $42.5 billion in funding to help bring high-speed internet infrastructure (at least 100Mbps for downloads and 20Mbps for uploads) to unserved areas and $2.75 billion for digital literacy training.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program ended at the end of 2021 and the Affordable Connectivity Program has replaced it. Emergency Broadband Benefit recipients fully enrolled as of December 31, 2021 will automatically continue to receive their current $50 monthly benefit until March 1, 2022. As far as continuing, the FCC is not 100% clear on process, but states,
Most Emergency Broadband Benefit households will not have to take any action to continue receiving the new $30 monthly benefit after the transition period ends on March 1, 2022. If your out-of-pocket costs will increase as a result of the reduced monthly benefit amount, your service provider will contact you to let you know if you need to take any additional steps in order to continue receiving the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit.
Affordable Connectivity Program Benefits:
The biggest and most common benefit of the Affordable Connectivity Program is the $30/month subsidy/credit on your internet service. This increases to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands.
A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50) is an additional benefit that may be claimed by eligible households.
Who is Eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The FCC states that households are eligible for the benefit if they have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (this was 135% of federal poverty levels under the old program) OR if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- 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;
- Participates in the National 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; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program.
How Long will the Affordable Connectivity Program Last?
The Affordable Connectivity Program (and the $30 monthly internet credit) will continue until funding is exhausted. It’s possible that additional funds will be added through future legislation.
How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program
Affordable Connectivity Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
If your household qualifies, post approval, your monthly internet bill from over 1,000 Affordable Connectivity partner internet service providers will be subsidized automatically with the credit.
For more info on the Affordable Connectivity Program, visit ACPBenefit.org.