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  • Writer's pictureSamiksha Jain

Can You Still Get Affordable Internet After the ACP Ends? Exploring Your Options



As the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) draws to a close, more than 20 million low-income Americans could face increased internet bills or, even worse, lose their broadband access entirely. This article provides a comprehensive guide on what to do as the ACP ends and explores various affordable internet options available.

Table of Contents

  • Understanding the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

  • Will the ACP be Extended?

  • What to do as the ACP Ends?

  • Conclusion

Understanding the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the ACP, a federal internet subsidy program, following a $14 billion investment from the bipartisan infrastructure deal in 2021. This program offered discounts of $30 per month (or $75 for homes on specific tribal lands) to low-income households.


However, in early February, the FCC stopped accepting new applicants due to dwindling funds. The last month for enrollees to receive the full subsidy will be in April, with only a partial discount potentially available in May.


Will the ACP be Extended?

The ACP could potentially continue if Congress appropriated additional funding. This would mean applications would likely reopen. However, as of now, no concrete decisions have been made, and so the future of the ACP remains uncertain.


What to do as the ACP Ends?

As the ACP winds down, here are some options to consider for maintaining your internet connection.

Stay in Contact with Your ISP

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should keep you informed about your discounts for the coming months and your options for internet access after the ACP ends.

Know Your Rights

The FCC has established rules and regulations that ISPs must follow during the transition period:

  • ISPs can't charge cancellation fees to ACP enrollees who want to end their plan before the contractual end date.

  • ISPs can't shut off or threaten to shut off your internet if you can't immediately make your first bill payment once the program ends. They can’t cut your internet access until 90 days have passed since your bill’s due date.

  • ISPs must clearly explain how the end of the ACP will affect your bill.

Consider Alternative Programs

Several alternative programs can help you stay connected once the ACP ends:

  • Federal Lifeline Internet Benefits: This longstanding internet subsidy offers a discount of $9.25 per month (or $34.25 for homes on tribal lands).

  • Other Affordable Internet Plans: Several multi-state ISPs run low-cost programs. The nonprofit Everyone On has a useful database that shows you your low-cost options based on your ZIP code.

  • Commonly Discounted Plans: Several major companies provide discounts to military, nurses, teachers, first responders, students, and other specific groups.

Negotiate with Your Internet Provider

If none of the above discounts or benefits apply to you, you may have luck negotiating with your internet provider for a cheaper price.


Conclusion

The upcoming ACP ending is undoubtedly a significant concern for many Americans. However, by understanding your rights and exploring alternative programs, you can find ways to maintain affordable internet access. Stay informed, know your options, and don't hesitate to speak up for your rights.

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