In February 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to help households struggling to afford internet service. The temporary internet subsidy was set to expire when the dedicated $3.2 billion in funds from Congress would run out or the public health emergency would end. But in late 2021, President Biden signed his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal into law, $14.2 billion of which went into the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)—a long-term replacement for the EBB.
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides affordable internet connections to around 50 million people in America. Enrolled households get a discount of $30/mo. towards the cost of internet service, which is up to $75 per month for households in qualifying Tribal lands.
More than a decade since the United Nations declared Internet access a basic human right, few argue against the necessity of affordable Internet access for life today. Yet, as the funds dedicated to the ACP in 2021 deplete, the fear of the end of affordable internet in the US plagues stakeholders and proponents alike.
The latest predictive model on the ACP Dashboard from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance shows that if more eligible households continue to enroll at the current rate, the ACP will run out of funds by the end of May 2024.
As of November 2023, an estimated $4.3 billion remains of the $14.2 billion Congress originally dedicated to the Affordable Connectivity Program. Even if no more households enroll after November 2023, the program will have no funds left by the end of June 2024.
The ACP is projected to end by May 2024. When that happens, families signed up for the ACP will see an immediate $30 increase in their monthly internet bill.
“Not all 50 million will drop off [their internet connection], but millions will,” said Blair Levin of New Street Research in an interview with Fierce, proclaiming the end of ACP “the single largest step backward in terms of widening the digital divide of any country since the beginning of the internet.”
But it’s not just affordability that’s at stake. The ACP also makes unserved and underserved areas attractive markets for ISPs, hence, incentivizing the construction of new internet access networks in those areas. In June 2023, the White House announced plans to distribute $42.45 billion in grants to expand high-speed internet access. But, ISPs that bid on broadband grants count on the ACP to enable customers to switch.
With the ACP gone, Internet service won’t only be costlier for millions, but thousands of communities won’t get access to high-speed Internet in the first place.
But this is assuming that ACP funds aren’t replenished in time. Recognizing that millions rely on these discounts to afford the basic need that Internet access has become, a growing number of leaders and beneficiaries are urging Congress to save the ACP.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) have each adopted resolutions supporting the renewal/extension of and permanent funding for the ACP. Several organizations have also written letters to political leaders and Congress in support of the program.
Spectrum has been sending emails to customers urging them to contact the White House and their elected officials to get the program funded. Customers can also request Spectrum to send a letter on their behalf. If you’re a customer, go to your Account, search “ACP”, and follow the instructions to help save the ACP.
You can still save up to $30 on internet service if you qualify for the ACP.
With 70% of the dedicated $14.2 billion funds already used up, the Affordable Connectivity Program seems to be in a pretty dire situation right now. However, much is being done to get the ACP funded and save the future of the program.
We’re optimistic that political leaders will not let the ACP expire. Once funding is approved, new and existing ACP beneficiaries will continue to receive Internet subsidies for the foreseeable future.
More than an estimated 50% of households eligible for the ACP nationwide still haven’t signed up, despite ACP being extremely popular, especially in Louisiana and Ohio. To get the Spectrum ACP in your area, call 855-423-0918.
There’s no end date for the ACP. The benefits last as long as you qualify for the benefit. However, the program has exhausted most of its original funds. If Congress doesn’t approve permanent funding for the program, the ACP benefits will only last until the end of May 2024.
When your ACP application expires, you have to recertify for the program. Recertification confirms that you’re still eligible for the program and should continue receiving the benefits.
The Government-sponsored Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) may allow you to get internet service free of cost. If you qualify, the government will pay up to $30 per month for your internet service. Internet plans that cost up to $30 per month, such as Spectrum Internet 100 (29.99/mo.) are virtually free for ACP-eligible households. Call Spectrum Sales Number to learn more.
No, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) still gives eligible households a discount of up to $30 per month towards broadband internet. Call our experts at 855-423-0918 to sign up with an ACP Internet service provider in your area.
We recommend Spectrum as the best ACP provider in Ohio. Spectrum has a 100 Mbps plan that’s available free of cost to ACP-eligible households. Call Spectrum Sales Number to learn more.