The COVID-19 pandemic is probably one of the most recent dark times in our history. Our economy saw such a volatile fluctuation that rippled throughout the world. Lots of people lost their jobs and even their homes due to the pandemic.
We started to isolate ourselves and normalize things that should not be normalized. Local stores were shut down and people started to have a hard time getting daily necessities. Everything needed to be ordered online and truth be told not many people could access the internet. The Internet became a necessity, rather than an occasionally used service.
The U.S. Government recognized the importance of having the internet during those dark times and took action that resulted in ACP.
ACP AKA Affordable Connectivity Program is an initiative program of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and the main objective is to provide access to Internet services to homes across the country at an affordable cost.
In the upcoming blocks, we will discuss in-depth ACP, its benefits, a list of the internet service providers participating in the program, and lastly, how to apply for the program quickly.
ACP – What Is It?
ACP is also known as the Affordable Connectivity Program with an objective to bring internet access nationwide at an affordable cost so that people can use the broadband for their schools and work-related activities. This program is an initiative from the FCC (Federal Communication Commission), a part of the U.S. government.
The ACP program provides benefits to eligible customers in the form of discounts on their internet bills. These discounts vary depending on the household. Eligible internet users can get at least $30 per month, and up to $75 per month if certain conditions are met (eligible if your household is on qualifying Tribal Lands).
This benefit is exclusively for internet service. There is also another benefit which is the discount on your electronic device. Eligible households can get a discount of up to $100 when they purchase a laptop, tablet or even a computer from a participating internet service provider in the ACP if they paid between $10 to $50 of the purchase price (MSRP).
There are restrictions to these benefits, such as the discount for the device being applicable for one device per household and the internet discount being limited to one monthly service.
So, how do you see if you are eligible to participate in the ACP?
The Eligibility Criteria for ACP Enrollment
The first eligibility criterion is the monthly income of your household. According to the Federal Poverty Guidelines, if your household income is less than 200% of the guideline-mentioned income, you qualify. For example, if you are the sole person in your household and your income is $26,160*, you are eligible for the ACP.
*The income is accepted by 48 states. The remaining two states, Alaska and Hawaii differ.
Now, if your household has more than one person, then add $10,280 for each person to the single-person household income, and that will give the margin for enrolling in the ACP.
You need to submit proof in order to enroll in the ACP. Either the income tax slip or the three consecutive (recent) income certificates can act as proof of income for ACP.
If you do not fit the first criteria, then the following factors can help to check whether you qualify for the program or not:
NOTE: One of the household members has to satisfy any one of the following criteria to qualify for the benefits program:
- If you participated in any assistance program, such as SNAP, Medicaid, and WIC.
- If you or any member of your household participates in any assistance program, such as the Free and reduced-price school lunches program or breakfast program.
- If you or any member of your household participates in the federal housing assistance program, which includes a housing choice voucher, rental assistance program, and affordable housing program for Native Indians, Alaska natives, and Hawaiians.
- If you or any member of your household participates in Supplemental Security Income.
- If you or any member of your household gets a veterans pension or any survivor benefits from the U.S. Army or the other two branches of the military.
- Lastly, if you received the Federal Pell Grant for the current year.
There is also another criterion where if one of your household members is in the lifeline support, you are automatically eligible for ACP.
You are eligible for ACP, if you participated in any one of the following Qualifying Tribal Land benefits:
- Food distribution program on Native American Reservation(s).
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance.
- Tribal TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
- Head Start (income certificate required)
To apply for ACP, you need to have proof of participation, such as the enrollment document.
How To Enroll in the ACP Initiative
Enrolling in ACP is simple enough, minding if you have the required supporting documents for your eligibility. Have both hard and soft copies of the eligible documents in hand, since it might help you if the enrollment process gets confusing.
When it comes to enrolling in the ACP, there are two steps
STEP #1: First, you have to submit the application. You can do that in two ways. One is through the official website. The second method is to print out the mail-in application (hard copy). You can visit the official website of GetInternet.gov to learn more about the online application process.
If the first step is confusing, then do not worry, the second is comparatively easier and simple.
STEP #2: This step involves contacting your preferred participating internet service provider to enroll in the ACP initiative. This can be different from applying online since different providers have different sets of applications that may require a different set of requirements. Once the process is complete, you are required to select the plan and have the discount applied to your monthly bills.
One important thing to note is that the eligible household must perform both tasks, which are to apply for the program and contact the participating providers to select the desired plan.
Benefits of ACP
Following are some ways that the ACP program protects its participants:
- The first and foremost benefit is affordability. The objective of the ACP program is to bring broadband service to all people across the nation at an affordable price.
- Gives the ability to the ACP participants to switch internet service providers with no strings attached.
- Make sure there is no termination fee imposed on the participants if the switch happens.
- Ensuring that the providers do not exclude participants from the program due to reasons, such as prior debt to the previous internet service plan.
- Gives the freedom of choosing the desired plan without restrictions (you can also include your existing plan in the program).
- ACP prevents the action of pushing participants to get into more expensive programs to enroll in the ACP initiatives by the internet service providers.
- Drastically reducing the bill shock for the participants.
- Have a good and dedicated FCC process for any ACP complaints and grievances.
How To Find the List of Providers Participating in ACP
There are ways to find a list of participating internet service providers in the ACP program, but the easiest way is to download the .XLSL (excel file) file is available on the website. You can download the list of internet service providers from here.
Another way is to use the tool called the Companies Near Me. Once you click on the Search Providers, you are presented with enter the ZIP code option or enter your city or state option. Once you input your ZIP code, it shows the list of providers in your locale participating in the ACP program.
NOTE: Check the radio button for ACP when searching for internet service providers.
- How do you get started with the ACP program?
You can either visit the official website, GetInternet.gov, to enroll in the program online, or you can contact your existing internet service provider to check with them about the ACP program.
- Do I get the funds directly each month?
No, you won’t receive the fund directly from the government. The discount will be directly applied to your monthly bill. It can be from $35/mo per household, up to $75/mo per eligible household on Tribal land.
- Can I sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program if I am already a customer, or if I was a customer in the past?
The answer is yes, you can sign up for the ACP if you are an existing customer given that you are eligible to enroll in the program.
Our world revolves around data and the internet. The Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, both personally and professionally. Having access to the internet is still somewhat difficult for some people nationwide. Having a program like ACP is a great way to reach more people and provide a broadband connection so they can carry out important daily tasks, such as school or work. Best Cable and Satellite is a huge supporter of the ACP program, and if you are having difficulties enrolling in the program, do not worry. We can help in each step and choose the best plan and service provider for your household.
This article hopes to have provided a good amount of information on ACP and create an awareness of the benefits of the program.