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Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP): Bridging the Digital Divide with Accessible Internet Solutions

Find ACP Internet Providers and Connect with Affordable Broadband Services

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that helps low-income families in the United States afford a broadband internet connection and can be applied to almost any internet plan, regardless of the monthly cost. Some providers, however, have created plans specifically to work with the ACP credit to offer customers faster speeds with no monthly cost.

Although the program was designed to be a permanent replacement for the EBB program that was established during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued funding of the program has recently been put into question. A bipartisan bill for allocating $7 billion in funding was proposed by lawmakers in January to keep the program running.7 As of April 11, the bill has 231 cosponsors in both the House and Senate—25 Republicans and 206 Democrats.11 Notably, the House bill has enough cosponsors to pass with their votes alone, if the Speaker would bring it to the floor for a vote. Without continued funding, the FCC will be forced to stop the enrollment of new households in the ACP and begin winding down the program.8

On January 25, 2023, the FCC began requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to send notifications to their ACP customers informing them about the potential end of the program and how that would impact their bills.9 On February 8, 2024, the FCC stopped accepting new applications to the program.10 With enrollments paused and the remaining budget divided up among the current participants, the FCC has announced that without continued funding, the last fully funded month will be April 2024 and all payments will end the next month in May, when participants will only receive partial payments.13 ISPs have until March 19 to send written notice of this end date to their ACP customers.12

To learn more about the end of the program and how this could impact your household, check out our in-depth analysis of the ACP funding crisis.

Do you know which of these providers have service in your area? Enter your zip code below to find out.

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

If you’re not familiar with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), it’s 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 ACP is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. The ACP is important because of its broad reach and flexibility as well as the consumer protections that prevent providers from taking advantage of those in the program.

In the two years since the program went into effect, more than 20 million American households have signed up and are currently receiving benefits.5 This has gone a long way to reducing one of the major barriers that perpetuates the digital divide that exists in the US. Furthermore, this and other federal programs targeting internet access have encouraged providers to expand their networks and connect previously overlooked areas. In just the second half of 2023, the number of U.S households without access to high-speed internet dropped by over 1 million, which is a whopping 13% reduction.6 Although there’s still a significant digital divide in the U.S., policies like the ACP are already making a significant impact.

What makes a good ACP-compatible internet plan?

Since the government will pay up to $30 toward any broadband internet plan, most major providers have created new ACP-specific internet plans that cost exactly $30. Shocking, I know. Fortunately for ACP recipients, most providers aren’t just milking the program while offering nothing. Since $30 is quite a bit more than other existing low-income plans that came in around $10 or $20 per month, most ACP-compatible plans also offer higher speeds than your average low-income plan.

Importantly, 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.

Internet Providers with ACP plans

ProviderPlanPriceConnection typeSpeeds up toOrder online
AT&T AT&T AccessFree with ACP credit*Fiber100 MbpsView Plans
Xfinity Internet Essentials Plus from ComcastFree with ACP credit†Cable100 MbpsView Plans
Verizon Lifeline 300 MbpsFree with ACP credit‡Fiber300 Mbps
Cox Communications Cox Connect AssistFree with ACP credit§Cable100 MbpsView Plans
Mediacom Mediacom Connect2Compete PlusFree with ACP credit‖Cable100 MbpsView Plans

Most good ACP-specific plans offer speeds around 100 Mbps, which is enough download speed for the average household to do most online activities, including checking emails, paying bills, online education, and even streaming video. Fiber connections are the best, if you have access to one in your location, though cable connections are also fairly fast and reliable.

For those households that need more speed, remember that your ACP credit can be applied to most plans, including blazing fast gigabit connections, though your discount won’t cover your entire monthly bill.

How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?

Use our internet speed calculator to get a personalized internet speed recommendation based on how you use the internet.

Question 1/6Speed need: 0 Mbps

How many people in your household use the internet/WiFi on a daily basis?

How many devices in your home connect to the internet, including tablets, gaming consoles, and smart devices?

How many people in your household work from home?

What video quality do you use for streaming TV and movies?

How intensely does your household participate in online gaming?

Does your household download large files from the cloud or via the internet?

Our minimum speed recommendation for you:

00 mbps

Other providers with ACP commitments

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.4 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
Starry InternetLearn More
Verizon (Fios only)Learn More
Vermont Telephone CompanyLearn More
Vexus FiberLearn More
Wow!Learn More

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.

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 Enroll in the ACP

As of February 8, 2024, the FCC is no longer accepting new applications for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) due to a lack of funding. If the proposed bipartisan funding bill is not approved within approximately two months, program will run out of funds and shut down.

If the funding bill is passed, then the FCC will end the pause on new applications and qualified households will once again be able to apply.

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.

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.

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.

What other benefits does the ACP provide?

In addition to the credit toward your internet bill, the ACP 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.

What consumer protections does the ACP contain?

The ACP contains consumer protections to prevent providers from denying benefits to those who qualify or otherwise abusing 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.

The ACP also prevents internet providers from forcing recipients into high-priced or low-quality plans in order to receive their proper discount. The ACP discount applies to new, prior, and current customers. This makes the ACP a tremendous help to those who are most in need.

Does the ACP replace the EBB?

The ACP 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

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.

Can I get the ACP discount from more than one provider?

No, the ACP provides a benefit toward a household’s internet bill, not discounts to every internet plan. If for some reason your household has two separate internet bills going to two different providers, your ACP benefit could only be applied to one of them.

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. 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.
  5. Brian Fung, CNN, “More than 20 million Americans enrolled in a federal program for subsidized internet access,” August 14, 2023. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  6. Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC, “National Broadband Map 3.0: Thankful for Continued Improvements,” November 17, 2023. Accessed November 21, 2023.
  7. Brian Fung, CNN, “US lawmakers propose $7 billion in funding to extend FCC internet discount program,” January 9, 2024. Accessed January 22, 2024.
  8. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “FCC plans shutdown of Affordable Connectivity Program as GOP withholds funding,” January 9, 2024. Accessed January 22, 2024.
  9. Drew Garner, Benton Institure for Broadband & Society, “Here’s What ISPs Are Telling ACP Subscribers Today,” January 25, 2024. Accessed January 25, 2024.
  10. Federal Communications Commission, “Affordable Connectivity Program.” Accessed February 7, 2024.
  11. Congress.gov, “S.3565 – Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024.” Accessed March 12, 2024.
  12. Federal Communications Commission, “Wireline Competition Bureau Announces the Final Month of the Affordable Connectivity Program.” March 4, 2024. Accessed March 5, 2024.
  13. Federal Communications Commission, “Wireline Competition Bureau Announces Reimbursement Rate Estimates for May 2024 ACP Benefits.” March 19, 2024. Accessed March 19, 2024.

Disclaimer

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.

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