The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) assists eligible households in obtaining devices to ensure internet access at reduced costs. If you’re searching for ‘acp free devices’, this article details the qualifications, the devices available, and the process to apply, equipping you with the necessary information to take advantage of these benefits.
- The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides monthly internet service discounts of up to $30 ($75 for Tribal lands) and a one-time device purchase discount, benefitting over 22 million households as of January 2024.
- Eligibility for the ACP hinges on income levels at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participation in assistance programs like SNAP and Medicaid; application requires official documents for proof.
- The ACP began winding down after February 7, 2024, due to funding depletion, with April 2024 expected to be the last month for full benefits unless Congress approves additional funding.
Understanding the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The ACP is more than just an ordinary program. It’s a lifeline for millions of households, providing up to $30 per month towards internet service. For those living on qualifying Tribal lands, this benefit increases to $75 per month. Established by Congress in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program has been allocated a whopping $14.2 billion to support its cause.
Since its launch in December 2021, the program has already aided over 22 million households by January 2024. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not only oversees the implementation of the ACP but also conducts outreach programs to boost awareness and accessibility. As a testament to the ACP’s commitment to quality, participating providers are required to report their service pricing and subscription rates annually.
Monthly Service Discount
How does one avail of the ACP monthly service discount? Eligible households can reduce their broadband service bill by $30.00 each month. This discount can be applied to a plethora of services including:
- associated equipment
Bear in mind, though, that the program limits each household to a single monthly service discount.
Also, if the cost of a consumer’s chosen broadband plan exceeds the monthly discount, the consumer is responsible for the remaining balance. Subscribers living in designated high-cost areas receive an increased ACP discount of up to $75 per month.
ACP Supported Service
The ACP’s adaptability presents another significant advantage. Whether you’re sticking with your current internet service plan or considering an upgrade, the ACP enables you to choose or alter the service plan that is the most suited to your personal needs. You can use the ACP service to upgrade your existing service plans, exploiting the up to $30 monthly discount benefit for enhanced broadband services.
The program allows the ACP benefit to be applied towards bundles that may include:
- Text messaging
- Necessary equipment
This flexibility extends to all consumers, regardless of their credit status.
For a provider to participate in the ACP, they must either be designated as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) or obtain approval from the FCC. Non-ETC providers can participate in the ACP by demonstrating they have an established program that offers Internet service to eligible households and have verification processes to prevent fraud. Providers can use the Lifeline National Verifier and National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to verify household eligibility or use their own alternative verification process, subject to FCC approval.
Various internet companies across the United States, offering landline and wireless services, are participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program. However, keep in mind that not every internet service provider participates in the ACP.
Eligibility Criteria for ACP Free Devices
To enjoy the benefits of the ACP, you must satisfy specific eligibility criteria. A household is eligible for the ACP if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. In addition, participation in certain assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, or the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program also qualifies a household for the program. Confirming eligibility requires official documentation, such as a benefit award letter or a statement of benefits.
Federal Public Housing Assistance
If you are a recipient of Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), you are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Inclusion in Federal Public Housing Assistance automatically qualifies a household for the ACP, providing them access to ACP benefits.
This implies that FPHA recipients can utilize the ACP to lower their internet service expenses, thereby securing affordable access to the internet.
Food Distribution Program
What about households enrolled in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)? They have good fortune on their side! Such households are eligible for the ACP.
Eligible FDPIR households can receive a monthly discount on internet service and a one-time discount on a connected device through the ACP.
School Breakfast Program
Likewise, enrollment in the School Breakfast Program makes a household eligible for ACP benefits. Schools participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision are included in the School Breakfast Program.
This means families with a child enrolled in the School Breakfast Program, including at CEP schools, are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Indian Affairs General Assistance
Indian Affairs General Assistance refers to the assistance given to Native American individuals and families to help them access ACP benefits. This involves ensuring Native American populations on qualifying tribal lands have access to affordable internet services.
The recognition of these lands is crucial for delivering ACP benefits to the Native American population.
How to Apply for ACP Benefits and Free Devices
The process of applying for ACP benefits and free devices is quite simple. Here are the steps:
- Check your eligibility.
- Submit an application through the ACP’s official website or by sending a mail-in form.
- After submitting the application, contact a participating provider to select an appropriate internet service plan.
To qualify for the one-time ACP device discount, a household must contribute between $10 and $50 towards the purchase price of the device.
Finding a Participating Provider
The initial phase of the application process involves locating a participating provider. The FCC provides a ‘Companies Near Me’ tool on their website to help users find ACP participating providers. This tool allows searches for internet service providers by inputting a city, state/territory, or zip code. Additionally, if users experience any issues with their internet service, they can report it to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center.
Participating providers in the ACP include a range of both landline and wireless internet providers, and available options will differ by location.
Submitting an Application
To avail ACP benefits, eligible households should follow these steps:
- Fill out an ACP application.
- Contact a participating provider to select a suitable service plan.
- Applications can be submitted online at GetInternet.gov or by mail.
- After being approved for ACP benefits, individuals need to contact their preferred service provider to apply the discount to their bill.
Updates on the application status are communicated via mail or email.
Identify a provider and submit your application. Next, confirm your eligibility with school documents showing participation in the School Breakfast Program, including student and school names and the school year. If not verified, provide more documents.
ACP benefits are available even with past due balances or collections, for new and existing customers of participating providers.
ACP Free Devices: What You Need to Know
The ACP offers a one-time discount up to $100 for buying a laptop, desktop, or tablet. Households must contribute $10 to $50 to qualify.
Connected Device Options
What kinds of devices are available for purchase with this one-time discount? The ACP offers eligible households the option to purchase laptops, desktop computers, and tablets.
Participating service providers are reimbursed up to $100 when they provide a connected device to an eligible ACP household.
Limited Time Offer
Although the ACP’s device discount is an excellent opportunity, it does have some restrictions. Each eligible household can receive only one discounted device through the ACP.
The FCC has made available an ACP Wind-Down Fact Sheet detailing the enrollment deadline and procedures for the program’s conclusion.
The ACP’s device benefit is non-transferable, intended only for the qualifying household. It cannot pass to others. Smartphones and phablets, which make cellular calls, are excluded from the ACP device benefit.
Managing Your ACP Account and Benefits
After joining the ACP, managing your account is crucial. The Universal Service Administrative Company offers an ACP Enrollment and Claims Tracker. It tracks benefits, showing data on enrolled households and claims by state, zip code, and county. To safeguard ACP subscribers’ identities, ZIP code data may be redacted.
Monitoring Your Internet Bill
Monitor your internet bill for your monthly ACP discount. Providers must list the ACP discount clearly, allowing easy tracking of benefits.
FCC regulations protect ACP participants, ensuring access to broadband services without pressure to choose costlier or lower-quality plans.
Renewing Your Benefits
Maintaining ACP benefits requires periodic renewals. The FCC Order requires service providers to send at least three written notices to enrolled households about the end of the ACP program and its impact. The ACP recertification process for 2023 began in June, and not responding to a recertification notice may result in losing the benefit and could lead to increased internet bills or service termination. ACP participants may automatically renew benefits if a database confirms their eligibility. Recertification options include phone, online, or mail if extra documents are needed.
Addressing De-Enrollment Concerns
It’s essential to understand how to prepare for the conclusion of the ACP program. The FCC released an order outlining the ACP wind-down process with important dates for:
- the enrollment freeze
- effects on consumers and companies
- ensuring households enrolled by a specified deadline continue to receive their benefits during the wind-down period, barring the need for de-enrollment due to program rules.
Internet companies are mandated to send three written notices to ACP households regarding the end of the program. These notices should detail the timing and consequences on their services and bills. ACP households should:
- Consult with their internet providers about the end of the ACP.
- Discuss available low-cost internet plans after losing the monthly discount.
- Review any notices from the internet company and USAC regarding the program’s conclusion.
For updates on the program status and further information about the ACP wind-down process, consumers can contact USAC or visit GetInternet.gov.
Tribal-Specific Programs and ACP
The ACP’s dedication to inclusivity shines through in the enhanced benefits offered to residents of eligible Tribal lands. Residents of these lands are eligible for an enhanced monthly ACP benefit of up to $75, which is more than the standard $30 benefit for non-Tribal lands residents. The ACP also includes a one-time discount of up to $100 towards the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet for Tribal land residents who contribute more than $10 but less than $50 towards the purchase price.
In addition to ACP benefits, the federal Lifeline program provides a discount of up to $34.25 for Tribal land residents on phone, internet, or bundled services and offers up to $100 for first-time service connection charges.
Qualifying Tribal Lands
Eligible Tribal lands enjoy an elevated ACP monthly service discount of up to $75, compared to the standard $30 discount for other eligible households. Households on Tribal lands are eligible for ACP benefits if they participate in Tribal specific programs such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
Indian Reservations are part of the qualifying Tribal lands for ACP benefits, and residency, not Tribe membership, determines eligibility for the enhanced benefits. To confirm if a household is on qualifying Tribal lands for the ACP, one can verify through an internet service provider or refer to the Enhanced Tribal Benefit webpage.
Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) is a federally recognized program that provides assistance to low-income Native American families. Tribal TANF is part of a broader spectrum of federal assistance programs that aim to support various aspects of life, including access to broadband through the ACP.
Individuals and families participating in Tribal TANF are automatically eligible for ACP benefits, facilitating access to affordable internet services. Tribal TANF participants may receive additional ACP benefits, which can include higher discounts or subsidies due to living on qualifying tribal lands.
Residents of Indian reservations may be eligible for enhanced benefits under the ACP, such as higher discounts on internet service. The enhanced ACP benefits for tribal residents also include a one-time discount for purchasing a connected device. The Indian reservations are hosting workshops that educate residents about the ACP benefits specifically available to them. Training sessions for how to apply and make the most of the ACP benefits are part of the initiatives on reservations.
Eligibility for free devices through the ACP for tribal residents includes criteria such as living on qualifying tribal lands and participating in certain federal assistance programs. Tribal residents can verify their eligibility for the ACP by including their tribal identification or other proof of living on tribal lands. Outreach and education efforts on Indian reservations include the appointment of tribal liaisons tasked with ensuring tribal members are aware of the ACP benefits.
The Future of ACP and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The ACP’s future significantly hinges on funding. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $14.2 billion towards transforming the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program into the Affordable Connectivity Program. However, the ACP ceased taking new applications on February 7, 2024, initiating the wind-down process because of funding depletion.
April 2024 is expected to be the last month for full ACP benefits unless the winding-down process changes. If Congress approves additional financing for ACP, the FCC will provide guidance on resuming program benefits.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act mandated ACP eligibility changes by the end of 2021. April 2024 is expected to be ACP’s last funded month without extra Congress funding.
The Your Home, Your Internet Pilot Program aims to raise ACP awareness among federal housing assistance recipients. It boosts funding for outreach grants to promote ACP and supports enrollment. ACP benefits may combine with state and local benefits.
Looking ahead, ACP benefits could potentially increase if Congress approves additional funding. However, as of now, April 2024 is expected to be the last month for full ACP benefits unless the winding-down process changes.
More Participating Providers
We might also witness an increase in the number of providers eligible to participate in the ACP in the future. The FCC expanded the types of providers eligible to participate in the ACP and ceased processing new provider applications for the ACP on February 7, 2024. Broadband providers such as community-owned networks, electric cooperatives, or municipal governments became eligible to participate in the ACP after meeting established criteria.
Hundreds of potential internet service provider applicants have been preparing to participate in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), with their plans influenced by the anticipated Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act (H.R. 6929/S. 3565) to meet grant requirements and enhance project sustainability.
In conclusion, the Affordable Connectivity Program is a significant step towards making internet access affordable for every household across America. From offering a monthly service discount to facilitating the purchase of a connected device, the ACP is a lifeline for millions of households. Whether you’re a recipient of Federal Public Housing Assistance, enrolled in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or a resident of an Indian reservation, the program provides a path to affordable internet access. However, the future of the ACP is largely dependent on funding and the potential expansion of eligibility criteria and benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can get a one-time device discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer under the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers this program to eligible households.
Yes, you can get a free tablet with ACP if you meet the specific criteria, such as being a Medicaid recipient with an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Yes, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) can help eligible households pay for internet and devices, such as a laptop or tablet.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that offers a monthly discount on broadband internet service and a one-time discount for the purchase of a connected device to eligible households. It aims to make internet access more affordable for eligible households.
The monthly ACP discount is up to $30 for eligible households, but it increases to $75 for those living on qualifying Tribal lands.