The Affordable Connectivity Program was started by Federal Communication Commission (FCC) with an aim to improve or reach last-mile internet or basic phone connectivity. After the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, several people lost jobs, businesses were shattered and citizens struggled to fulfill day-to-day household needs. In order to avoid another recession, the FCC revamped and renamed the LifeLine program by renaming it as the Affordable Connectivity Program in 2021. So what’s this program all about? Let’s learn it here.
According to ACP, eligible households get a $30 per month discount on internet or wireless phone service to stay connected with their family and friends. Those who are living in the qualifying tribal lands can claim up to a $75 per month discount considering the fact that rural internet is costly. With this move, FCC aims to improve tribal internet connectivity as data shows that only 67% of people in the tribal land have access to broadband internet, and that too at ‘minimally acceptable speed’, as reported by the American Indian Policy Institute research.
However, the ACP discount is limited to one person per household and you need to make at least one call to keep the services active or else you will have to recertify.
If you signup for a wireless phone billing discount, along with a $30 monthly discount you will also get a free smartphone, This program was also extended to provide a one-time discount of $100 on the purchases of either a tablet PC or laptop for entertainment or education purposes. So that was general details about the program designed and regulated by the FCC, now check out the benefits, qualification process, the procedure to apply, and the documents needed.
I think, in the article intro itself I have covered all the benefits but still let me sum it up for you. As an ACP customer, you get the following benefits if approved –
- Free smartphone
- Minimum $30 discount on wireless phone service or Internet services
- Free voicemails
- Free call to emergency service
- Hurricane alerts (provided Settings are Turned ON on your phone)
Isn’t that amazing?
The ACP program was designed keeping in mind the services should reach the people who actually need them the most. This is why there are certain criteria for qualification and you can get this discount if you are a participant/receiving the following government benefits –
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current year
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Participant in the US Head Start program
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
Your household income should be less than or equal to 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
You will need a document that shows your or your family’s participation in any of the above-mentioned programs.
Customers who have been previously availing of the Lifeline program benefits will be automatically upgraded to the ACP program discount.
How discount is Applied?
The ACP service discount plan is offered by more than hundreds of telecom networks in the USA. Now you might have a question about how this discount is applicable.
Here is how you will get this discount –
Let’s say you have chosen a $30 plan with AirTalk Wireless, Assurance Wireless or Easy Wireless, you will be charged $30 for every billing cycle. The credit discount will be added automatically to your account by the end of the month and at the end, you will not have to pay anything extra.
Let’s say you have upgraded your plan which costs $40, then as per ACP, you will get a discount of $30 in your billing for the respective month + you will have to pay $10 extra/month because you have upgraded your plan.
Those who live in the qualifying tribal lands can get a discount of up to $75, so they are free to choose any plan that can cost up to $75/month for either internet or wireless phone services.
Why do Tribals get a $75/month discount?
Usually, last-mile connectivity is costlier for service providers and plans typically cost higher than their plans in the metro cities for the same speed. So, the applicants living in the qualifying tribals get up to a $75/month discount.
The following tribal lands are included to get these benefits –
- Hawaiian Home Lands
- Former reservations in Oklahoma
- Any federally recognized Indian tribe’s reservation, pueblo, or colony
- Indian allotments
- Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement
- Any land approved for the Lifeline program or ACP by FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy.
You can qualify nearest network to be part of these benefits or follow the process mentioned below in order to apply online.
How to Apply?
Since I don’t know in which US state you are residing, it would be better if you get started at the official website –
- Visit the FCC’s official website NV Flow.
- You need to enter your First Name, Last name, and Date of Birth.
- You also need to enter your Social Security Number(SSI), Tribal ID number, or other government identification number like a Driver’s License, passport, or consular ID & among others.
- Finally, you need to provide the address with clear details stating Stree number/name, city, state, and zip code and then click on NEXT.
- When you are done, you will see a list of approved networks that offer ACP discount plans in your state or city.
Once you apply, you will get your SIM card and a phone delivered to your home address.
In order to activate it, you should insert your SIM card into your phone.
ACP Discounted Network Providers in America:
There are hundreds of participating networks that offer ACP discounts and you can find them here. The following networks provide Pan America discounted services –
- AirTalk Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
- QLink Wireless
- Cintex Wireless
- Metro by T-Mobile
- Visible Wireless
- Frontier Communications
So that’s all about the Affordable Connectivity program generally referred to as the ACP program, the discounts offered, and the procedure on how to apply.