Spreading the word about the Affordable Connectivity Program

Consumer Action offered a train-the-trainer webinar on June 21.
Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2022

By Nelson Santiago

The back-to-school period is a great time for parents to double-check that their families have access to the internet service they’ll need. Consumer Action wants to remind readers that, under the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), low- and moderate-income households are eligible to receive an internet service discount of up to $30 per month (up to $75 for residents of Tribal lands) and a one-time discount of as much as $100 for a computer or tablet (unless they already received this benefit through the former Emergency Broadband Benefit program). To inform our network partners about program benefits, eligibility requirements and the enrollment process, Consumer Action offered a train-the-trainer webinar on June 21. Guest speakers not only described the nuts and bolts of the ACP, but also discussed the "digital divide" that makes the program so vital for families without broadband, and presented educational partnership opportunities for community-based organizations.

Amina Fazlullah, the senior director of equity policy at Common Sense, talked about the "excitement and relief" that the federal ACP brings those who have been working on digital divide issues and advocating on behalf of low-income consumers. "It's incredible to have a federal program that offers relief to consumers and is long-term," she said, noting that the cost of connecting to the internet is taking up a larger portion of everyone's budget. Several statistics Fazlullah cited show that a major digital divide persists in all 50 states. She urged participants to help ensure that their eligible clients enroll in the program, explaining that if consumers don't sign up, Congress could decide to cut funding next time it comes up for consideration. Learn more about Common Sense's recent efforts to create awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) here.

Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, an associate chief of the Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), discussed the transition from last year's temporary pandemic-era Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to the new Affordable Connectivity Program. Hernandez-Ulloa explained that, although the EBB monthly discount was higher (up to $50, or up to $75 for Tribal lands) than the ACP discount (up to $30, or up to $75 for Tribal lands), the ACP is a longer-term program. She noted that the EBB received $3.2 billion in federal funding while the ACP received $14.2 billion. Hernandez-Ulloa also walked participants through the ACP eligibility guidelines, which include that household incomes be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or that applicants participate in specific assistance programs, receive specific federal benefits, or be the recipient of a Pell Grant. Find the FCC's Outreach Toolkit here.

To learn more, including how the ACP program complements the Lifeline telephone discount program when consumers qualify for both the ACP and Lifeline, check out Consumer Action’s "Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program" fact sheet (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean translations available). For more on low-cost broadband plans, read our “Getting Up to Speed” fact sheet (also available in Spanish) and the companion “Low-income Broadband Plans” directory.

If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here. The recording also includes information about educational outreach partnership programs with Common Sense and the FCC.

(Note: If you are helping a consumer who needs a paper application, available in English and Spanish, you can provide them this link.)

To receive an invitation to Consumer Action's upcoming webinars on the ACP, which will include information about recently announced federal community education grant opportunities and additional information about broadband benefits on Tribal lands, send an email to [email protected].




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