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New FCC affordable broadband program launches

The program has $14.2 billion allocated for it.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Posted on Jan 3, 2022   Updated on Jan 3, 2022, 10:42 am CST

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a program administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that provides discounts to eligible Americans for their internet service, recently launched.

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The program replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which also offered monthly discounts and ultimately had millions of households sign up (although studies showed millions of homes that were eligible haven’t signed up). The ACP was launched with $14.2 billion that was allocated for it in the infrastructure law that passed in November.

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Much like the Emergency Broadband Benefit, the ACP will allow for eligible homes to sign up and get a monthly discount on their internet service. The ACP is offered $30 a month discounts for internet service and $75 a month on Tribal lands. It also allows for eligible homes to get a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

While the $30 per month is lower than the $50 per month offered in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, the new program is backed by the more than $14 billion from the infrastructure bill, keeping the discount program going indefinitely. The Emergency Broadband Benefit was allocated $3.2 billion and was scheduled to end once the government declared an end to the COVID-19 pandemic or the money ran out.

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The ACP officially launched on Friday.

“The response to the Emergency Broadband Benefit proved what many knew to be true: the cost of high-speed internet is out of reach for too many of us,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Now with the long-term Affordable Connectivity Program, we have the opportunity to enroll even more households and help ensure they can afford the internet connections they need for work, school, health care and more for years.”

The ACP is being offered to homes that meet at least one of the following criteria: having an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines; being enrolled in SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, WIC, or Lifeline; participating in Tribal specific programs; having a child enrolled in a free or reduced price school lunch program; receiving a federal Pell Grant; or meeting the eligibility for a participating internet service provider’s existing low-income program.

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Those already enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit will continue to get their discount until March 1, giving them time to transition to the new program. People can sign up for the ACP at acpbenefit.org.


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*First Published: Jan 3, 2022, 8:37 am CST