Connectivity is as important as ever, and staying in touch with our coworkers or family is an invaluable luxury that not everyone can afford these days with the cost of living constantly on the rise.
A great number of families across the US had to make sacrifices in order to keep the food on the table and the lights on, including cutting back on some broadband services they may have used in the past.
Despite this, almost every American needs access to a broadband network, whether it’s for work or contacting our loved ones, and it shouldn’t be something gatekept behind a paywall that’s far too steep for many to climb.
Because of this, the federal government created the Emergency Broadband Benefits in order to help these low-income families meet their needs without spending too much of their income on broadband services, and we’re going to help you understand how this program works.
What is the ACP?
Essentially, Affordable Connectivity is a program designed by the US Congress with the intention of replacing the former, far less functional EBBP assistance program.
$14 billion was invested in making connectivity affordable for the average American, allowing everyone to have access to broadband networks for their work, family, or school-related needs.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the advantages of the EBBP were gone, but rather, that they were replaced by a much more efficient program that would solve the issues EBBP was struggling with.
ACP replaced the previous program on December 31st, 2021, and has remained one of the leading federal assistance programs to focus on helping impoverished families with internet and phone network access.
Through the program, beneficiaries can receive discounts on their broadband connection bills and other connectivity expenses, adjusted based on the applicant’s income level.
How does it work
Through ACP, qualifying American households can receive discounts of up to $30 on their broadband and internet expenses every month, whereas those located on tribal land can receive discounts of up to $75.
On top of this, unlike with EBBP, to qualify for ACP, a member of the household could be a recipient of WIC benefits or at least be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
However, those that previously received their EBBP benefits due to loss of income will have to reapply for the ACP, once again meeting the qualifications of the program’s distributor in your area.
Thankfully, the transition was made smooth enough that most families didn’t even feel it, and the majority of Americans that previously received EBBP didn’t even have to reapply for the new monthly benefits program.
This is particularly true for households on tribal land which didn’t see any decrease in benefits, unlike the rest.
A household can become eligible for benefits if their total income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines at the time of application, although participating in some other programs can help you receive benefits as well.
Programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and Lifeline practically ensure that you’ll receive benefits through ACP, and considering just how easy it is to qualify for those, it’s an option worth looking into.
This also applies to some educational assistance opportunities, as households with at least one member being a Pell Grant recipient can also qualify for ACP benefits.
On top of that, if you already qualify for some other low-income assistance program, you may already be eligible for assistance through ACP, meaning that the application process itself could be the one thing between you and affordable connectivity in these dire times.
Even though you begin receiving your benefits via your service provider, there’s nothing preventing you from changing service providers for any reason whatsoever.
Usually, this is due to moving to another area where said service provider doesn’t offer their product or assistance, although some people do change service providers because of a better deal they may have found elsewhere.
Because of this, EBBP and ACP beneficiaries can transfer their benefits to any other participating service provider upon request, and the only thing you’ve got to do is contact the new provider and ask them to perform the transfer for you.
In fact, you never even need to cancel any benefits or contact your current provider at all, and the process is fairly simple, quick, and to the point.
There are many things we consider a luxury these days, and staying in touch with our loved ones and keeping up with work is definitely not one of them.
Connectivity is a right that every American should have in this day and age, and restricting anyone from using a network due to the sheer cost of the service is unethical, to say the least.
Government programs like Lifeline and ACP are here to help, and with the assistance they offer, you can spend a lot less on your internet and broadband services while also focusing on the things that actually matter.