When the COVID pandemic struck, it’s not breaking news that a lot of things had changed. For instance, physical or social gatherings were banned to curb further spread of the virus. As a result, online classes were introduced, online jobs, online business meetings and so on. In addition, people started to connect more over phone than they would connect physically. Home entertainment was also highly embraced. This highly increased the demand of internet access. As you probably know, home internet is not very cheap. This really strained low income consumers or individuals that lost jobs as an effect of COVID-19.
As a result, the Federal Communications Commission in collaboration with congress, instituted the affordable connectivity program, a platform that was meant to lower the cost of internet access to low income consumers. As of now, this program has helped millions of American families to study online, work, conduct business online, access healthcare among other benefits. This has really offloaded burden on low income households and as a result, many consumers have been inquiring: how long will affordable connectivity program last. Do you want to know for how long will you enjoy ACP benefits? Read this article to the end to get your answers.
What Is Affordable Connectivity Program And How Does It Work
The affordable connectivity program or ACP is an American government program that was initiated to help the jobless and low income households, to afford broadband services and internet connectivity devices like laptops and tablets. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) with an oversight of the federal communications commission. Just as mentioned earlier, this program was initiated as a lifesaver after COVID 19 pandemic, to help financially strained families access online classes, healthcare and work online.
To work effectively, the government allocated $14 billion on this program, sourced from the infrastructure investment and Jobs Act. As of now, this program has helped more than 14 Million households to access free or discounted broadband services.
One crucial thing to note however, is that not everyone qualifies for ACP benefits. To qualify, you must be a low income consumer, with an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline. In addition, you are also considered eligible for ACP if you participate in government assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, have received a federal Pell grant, Federal Public Housing Assistance and Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance among others.
To access ACP, you should also fill an online or mail application form and attach a number or required documents. To apply for ACP, just visit their official website and get started: “affordableconnectivity.gov/how-to-apply”. Some of the application documents required are Paycheck stub, Veterans Administration statement of benefits, Medicaid statement of benefits and SNAP approval letter.
To work effectively, ACP also works with thousands of service providers. It is through these service providers that eligible households will receive their ACP benefits. These are providers like cintex wireless, Airtalk wireless, Airvoice wireless, assurance wireless, safelink wireless among others. Keep reading to know more about these benefits.
When And How Did The Affordable Connectivity Program Start
As we have stated above, ACP was initiated after the strike of COVID 19 pandemic. To be precise, ACP was launched on 31st of December 2021. The program was initiated as a replacement or continuation of the EBB program, a program that also served to help eligible consumers afford broadband services and connectivity devices. Similar to ACP, EBB was also meant to help low income households or consumers that participated in government assistance programs like Medicaid and SNAP.
How Long Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Last
As we have mentioned, ACP was initiated on the last day of December 2021. To work effectively, the program was allocated $14 billion dollars. Therefore, the program was meant to last until these allocated funds come to an end.
When Is The Affordable Connectivity Program Expected To Come To An End
The affordable connectivity program was expected to come to an end once its allocated funds come to an end. As of now, we are not certain on when this program will come to an end. However, there are speculations that ACP allocated funds ($14 billion) are likely to deplete one and half years from now. To be precise, the program is expected to deplete its allocated fund as of mid-2024. Currently, we are not certain whether the program will still continue even after the allocated funds deplete. The good news is the congress still have time to act on this issue and announce on a way forward.
Is the Affordable Connectivity Program Permanent
Not really, the affordable connectivity program is not a permanent program. When the program was initiated, it was announced that its benefits will serve until its allocated funds depleted. The program was also expected to operate until the COVID-19 pandemic stops. Therefore, we can conclude that the affordable connectivity program is not permanent but a temporary program.
Is There A Possibility That The Affordable Connectivity Program Benefits Will Be Extended
As of now, it’s not certain whether the affordable Connectivity program benefits will be extended. As estimated, the affordable connectivity program funds should sustain until one and half years from now. This is until mid of the year 2024. This will give Congress and ample time to decide whether the program will be extended or not. However, it is in the hope and expectations of many, that Congress will extend this program. This will help the affected American households to continue accessing free or cheap internet services during these hard economic times.
What Benefits Are The Affordable Connectivity Program Consumers Enjoying
Once you qualify for the affordable connectivity program, you are given a monthly discounted of up to $30 towards your internet service bill. If you a qualifying consumer on tribal land, ACP gives you a monthly discount of up to $75 towards your monthly internet service bill.
Besides these discounts, ACP also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 towards purchasing connectivity devices like laptops, tablets, and computers. ACP benefits also vary depending with your service provider. For instance, some providers offers free phones through this program. In addition, you will also receive free unlimited calls and free unlimited texts from selected service providers once you qualify for this program.