What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

Learn about the ACP and how to apply

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that helps low-income families in the United States afford a broadband internet connection. It is the replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) that began during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of the ACP is to ensure that every household in the US has access to a high-speed internet connection for work, education, healthcare, civic engagement, and more. Households currently enrolled in many other government assistance programs already qualify for the ACP, but many other low income households are eligible as well.

Although the ACP is a government program, many internet providers have committed to working with the ACP to provide plans that can give families internet at no cost, whatsoever.

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

The ACP is a benefit program from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that provides $30 per month toward a household’s internet bill.1 Those living on Tribal land or certain high-cost areas may be eligible for enhanced support of up to $75 per month.

The program also allows eligible households to receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.2 This benefit is specifically designed for low-cost devices that, with the discount, a household can purchase for more than $10 and less than $50. As such, this discount applies only to devices with a total purchase price of less than $150.

The ACP is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

Another important feature of the ACP are the consumer protections built into the program. Unlike many other programs for low-income households, the ACP prohibits providers from denying applicants based on outstanding bills or past-due balances sent to collections.

Providers also can’t force ACP recipients into high-priced or low-quality plans in order to receive their discount. Providers must also apply the discount to new, prior, and current customers. Thanks to these protections, the ACP gives its beneficiaries a huge amount of freedom to choose the provider and plan that works best for their specific needs.

The program went into effect December 31, 2021, replacing the EBB program that ended the same day. It was created as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was passed November 15, 2021.3

Who qualifies for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

You may qualify for the ACP if at least one person in your household meets the following criteria:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline Program
  • Is approved for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP)
  • Has received a Pell Grant in the current award year
  • Is currently eligible for certain providers’ low-income programs
  • Receives assistance through SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, or WIC
  • Participates in Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

Households can also qualify for the ACP if the household income is less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, which are specific to each state.

How to apply to the ACP

There are two steps that you must complete in order to enroll in the ACP:

  1. Submit an application for the ACP.
  2. Contact your provider to apply the discount to your bill.

Both these steps must be completed in order to receive your ACP benefits.

Submit your application

The easiest way to apply to the ACP is to fill out the application online. Creating an account requires only your contact information and one ID number (there are several options, though the last four digits of your social security number is supposedly the fastest to process). Households that are already enrolled in the Lifeline program or another low-income program with a non-Lifeline provider can often skip this step and simply contact their internet provider directly to enroll in the program.

You can also download the application form, print it out, and submit it by mail along with copies of your documentation. If you already have internet at home and are applying for yourself, it’s easier to apply online. But when you’re helping out a family member or friend without internet access, giving them a printed copy of the form to fill out for themselves is often an easier solution.

Completed application forms should be sent to the following address:

ACP Support Center
PO Box 7081
London, KY 40742

Contact your provider

Most national and local internet service providers (ISPs) in the US participate in the ACP, so you generally have your choice of ISP for the program. If not, the FCC has a tool to search participating providers in your area.

Enter your zip code below to see a list of internet providers in your area. Most, though not all, participate in the ACP, so be sure to ask a sales rep about how to set up ACP discounts.

The process of setting up your ACP discount differs between providers. Some may have additional application forms you must complete in order to receive your benefit. As mentioned above, eligible households must both apply to the ACP and set up service with their provider. If either step is skipped, the ACP benefit won’t be applied to your bill.

Internet providers with ACP plans

On May 9, 2022, President Biden announced that 20 internet providers had committed to offering ACP-eligible households high-speed internet access for $30 or less.6 While most ISPs participate in the program, these providers have created special plans designed to give ACP recipients the maximum benefit. This includes plans with a monthly cost of $30 or less, which, with the ACP discount, you get for $0 per month—absolutely free.

More than 80% of the US population has access to at least one of these no-cost plans, but not every provider has coverage in every area. To see which are available in your area, enter your zip code below.

Providers with ACP commitments
Allo CommunicationsLearn More
AltaFiberLearn More
Hawaiian TelecomLearn More
OptimumLearn More
SuddenlinkLearn More
AstoundLearn More
AT&TLearn More
BreezelineLearn More
XfinityLearn More
ComporiumLearn More
FrontierLearn More
IdeaTekLearn More
Cox CommunicationsLearn More
Jackson Energy AuthorityLearn More
MediacomLearn More
MLGCLearn More
SpectrumLearn More
StarryLearn More
Verizon (Fios only)Learn More
Vermont Telephone CompanyLearn More
Vexus FiberLearn More
Wow!Learn More

AT&T Access Program

AT&T has created a new speed tier for its Access program to provide symmetrical speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $30 per month.4 That means both download and upload speeds of 100 Mbps, free for those receiving a discount through the ACP.

Although this program is designed to give ACP recipients free internet access, AT&T also gives you the option of applying your ACP discount to most other AT&T plans.4

Mediacom Connect2Compete+

Mediacom recently launched its Connect2Compete+ program, a $30 per month high-speed broadband service with a download speed of up to 50 Mbps.5 Since your entire monthly bill will be covered by the ACP benefit, giving you internet access absolutely free.*

As with any provider, you’re not limited to this special program, and can instead choose to apply your ACP discount to most other Mediacom plans.

View Mediacom Plans

What’s changed from the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

The ACP is the successor to and replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program that was instituted in 2021 to help those dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main differences between the two programs is that the monthly benefit has been reduced and some of the qualifications have changed. Families on WIC now qualify for the ACP, while a substantial loss of income in 2020 no longer qualifies a household for the program (though they might qualify under other criteria). Additionally, the maximum income for qualifying households has also been increased from 135% of Federal Poverty Guidelines to 200%.1

Following the end of the EBB program, there is a 60-day transition period where those who were currently enrolled in the EBB program when it ended could continue to receive those benefits (though those still receiving EBB benefits could not also receive benefits from the ACP—only one benefit per household).1 That transition period ends March 2, 2022.

Affordable Connectivity Program FAQ

Which providers participate in the ACP?

Most major providers participate in the ACP, but not all. Contact your provider to see if it participates. You can also see the full list of participating ISPs provided by the FCC.

Enter your zip code below to see a list of internet providers in your area. Contact a sales rep about how to set up ACP discounts.

Can I apply for the ACP if I owe money to my provider?

Yes, eligible households cannot be denied ACP benefits based on a past-due balance or a balance in collections.

Can I sign up for the ACP if I’m already a customer?

Yes, the ACP benefit is available to all eligible new, prior, and current customers of participating providers. As long as your current provider participates in the ACP, you don’t have to switch providers to get the discount.

Do I need to contact my provider if my application has been approved?

Yes, you must both apply to the program and contact your provider in order for the discount to be applied to your bill.

Sources

  1. Federal Communication Commission, “Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Comment on the Implementation of the Affordable Connectivity Program,” November 18, 2021. Accessed February 10, 2022.
  2. Federal Communication Commission, “Affordable Connectivity Program,” Accessed February 10, 2022.
  3. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Pub. L. No. 117–58, 135 Stat. 429. November 15, 2021. Accessed February 10, 2022.
  4. AT&T, “New ‘Access from AT&T’ Plan + New Federal Benefit = Free Internet,” February 7, 2022. Accessed February 10, 2022.
  5. Mediacom, “Mediacom Announces New High-Speed Internet Programs to Connect Low-Income Households,” January 19, 2022. Accessed February 16, 2022.
  6. The White House, “FACT SHEET: President Biden and Vice President Harris Reduce High-Speed Internet Costs for Millions of Americans” May 09, 2022. Accessed May 12, 2022.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.