No more ACP

The FCC announced yesterday that the maximum benefit in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for May for non-tribal areas will be no more than $14 unless Congress makes additional funding available for the program. That’s a bit less than half the usual monthly amount of $30.

The maximum May benefit for tribal subscribers will be no more than $35, down from the usual $75. The maximum May benefit for ACP connected devices will be no more than $47, down from $100.

Although there is a chance that the benefits for May could drop below the new May dollar amounts, the FCC noted in a public order that the amounts are not expected to change. The amounts were calculated based on projected demand and funding available for the month.

The ACP program, launched in January 2022, is designed to make internet connectivity more affordable for low-income households by covering some of the costs for monthly broadband service and for a computer or certain other devices. The program will run out of funding in May, however, unless additional funding is made available.

Congress appears unlikely to do that, as the legislators haven’t voted to allocate more funding, despite pleas from the FCC, consumer groups, President Biden and others.

Without the additional funding, the ACP will end in May, with no benefits paid beginning in June.

The $14 number isn’t a surprise, considering that the FCC said last month that the non-tribal ACP benefit for May was expected to be no more than $16.

Provider Options

At that time, the commission explained that providers have the option of ending their participation in the ACP at the end of April and not offering a benefit in May, with proper advance notification to participants. They also have the option of continuing with the program in May and contributing additional money toward the cost of ACP service for that month so that the benefits remain at the current level.

Providers continuing to participate in May are not allowed to bill ACP households for more than what the households have been paying when the full monthly benefit was available.

Those providers that have an alternative low-income program were encouraged to let customers know about those programs.

AT&T said several days ago that it expects to continue to offer its Access from AT&T $30-per-month low-income service after the ACP runs out. Comcast announced that customers participating in the ACP will automatically qualify for the company’s Internet Essentials 50 Mbps service, which costs $9.95 per month or Internet Essentials Plus, which provides 100 Mbps for $30 a month.

Additional information about the maximum ACP benefits for May can be found in this FCC public notice.

Don’t Miss Any of Our Content

What’s happening with broadband and why is it important? Find out by subscribing to Telecompetitor’s newsletter today.

You have Successfully Subscribed!