Sat. May 18th, 2024

Last month, the FCC warned that Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) home internet discounts will end after April 2024. It now says that the program will continue through May, but discounts have been slashed in half.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is an extension of the 2020 Emergency Broadband Benefit program. It provides low-income families with $30 (or more) in monthly home internet discounts that may be applied to qualifying internet plans.

Congress has failed to bring in new funding for the ACP, meaning that approximately 18.5 million households (14% of all U.S. households) will stop receiving home internet discounts. Most of these customers are currently paying $10 or $15 a month for internet access and believe that they will experience service disruptions after ACP subsidies end.

So, the FCC is stretching its remaining ACP budget. The maximum ACP discount for May 2024 is $14—less than half of the usual rate. ACP recipients on tribal land will receive $35 instead of $75, and ACP Connected Device reimbursements have fallen to $47 per device.

We don’t know how ISPs will respond to this change. At the time of writing, AT&T is the only ISP that says it will maintain its $30 ACP internet plan after ACP funding ends (even for new customers). Other ISPs may be less generous.

The White House has requested additional ACP funding, though Congress is yet to commit any cash. Per the Washington Post an opportunity to renew the ACP may not arrive until Congress weighs a financial package for Baltimore’s collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge. ISPs have also voiced their support for continued ACP funding, though this is to be expected, as this program is financially beneficial to service providers.

Note that ACP recipients may also qualify for the Lifeline program, which provides $9.25 discounts on mobile and broadband service. If the loss of ACP subsidies threatens your home internet service, look into the Lifeline program and consider switching to a low-cost 5G home internet plan.

We’ll learn more about the ACP program next month. If you’re an ACP recipient, reach out to your ISP to see if reduced ACP funding will affect your May 2024 internet bill.

Source: FCC via Washington Post

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By John P.

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