To meet the needs of households with low-incomes, many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer discount broadband plans. With the launch of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the number of low-cost offerings has increased rapidly and continues to grow.
While offering more affordable choices is positive, varying costs, eligibility, and quality of service can make it challenging for digital inclusion practitioners, let alone individual customers, to understand which plans meet their needs.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program? (ACP) Federal Pell Grantees
The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.
The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
What is the Lifeline Program? (Federal Pell Grantees)
Since 1985, the Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund. The Lifeline program is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands.
In the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, the Commission included broadband as a support service in the Lifeline program. The Commission also set out minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported services to ensure maximum value for the universal service dollar, and established a National Eligibility Verifier to make independent subscriber eligibility determinations.