The Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program hit an internet accessibility milestone.
FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said on Monday that more than 20 million U.S. households have signed up for the program, which subsidizes the cost of internet service for those meeting a certain income threshold.
The ACP, which is funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, marks one of the government’s biggest efforts to close the digital divide. It helps millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford internet service, a near requirement in this day and age. That the agency was able to sign up so many people so quickly – the program launched at the end of 2021 – is a testament to the demand for high-speed internet across the country.
The program is geared towards providing low-income households with a government-funded discount on internet services. The program also offers a one-time discount of $100 off the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating retailers.
The FCC enlisted the help of local, state, and federal organizations to raise awareness of the ACP program. Over 1,400 virtual and in-person enrollment events have been hosted so far. The FCC, along with funding through Congress, established a nationwide paid media campaign to further expand its presence to eligible households.
The FCC has allocated more than $72 million through 228 grants to state and local communities, including tribal governments and community partners.
“For a long time, closing the digital divide focused on one part of the equation — the lack of physical infrastructure to get online. But we know that for many people, even when there was technically access, the cost to get online was too high,” said Rosenworcel. “Thanks to investments from Congress, we have new tools to tackle both challenges, including the Affordable Connectivity Program that is helping struggling families to get or stay online to pay for this modern-day necessity.”
Those who qualify receive $30 off their monthly internet bill or $75 off for tribal households.
“Enrolling more than 20 million eligible households is no small feat — and wouldn’t be possible without the partnership of organizations in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the country who are getting the word about this powerful program,” said Rosenworcel. “We’ve made too much progress in helping families get online to turn back now.”
- Their household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, about $60,000 a year for a family of four or $29,000 a year for an individual
- Anyone in the household, including children or dependents, participates in certain government assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, Federal Housing Assistance, or others
- Anyone in the household participates in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program
- Anyone in the household received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Anyone in the household already receives a Lifeline benefit
- A household may also qualify for the ACP through a participating provider’s existing low-income program