The FCC says that it has implemented changes to simplify the application process for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). It also said that the program now is utilized by more than 17 million households.
The $14.2 billion ACP provides a discount of as high as $30 to eligible households – and as much as $75 to those on Tribal homelands. The program also pays up to $100 toward the cost of a device if that household contributes between $10 and $50. It was created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The enhancements are designed to cut enrollment time by providing clear instructions, reducing the number of steps and simplifying the language used. The enhancements included input from digital navigators, digital equity advocates and ISPs. The FCC says that it is possible more changes will be made in the future.
“As of today, seventeen million households have enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program. No small feat. But we aren’t stopping there. We continue to look for ways to reach more people who could benefit from its support,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “Our application enhancements roll-out is part of our ongoing work to improve the consumer experience with the program, so even more families can get the support they need to get online and stay online.”
The previous process had been negatively assessed in March by The Pew Charitable Trust. The group cited research that said that only about 25% of eligible households were taking advantage of the program. It suggested the low adoption rate was due to the cumbersome nature of the enrollment process.
The FCC had recognized the low penetration of the program and was working to alleviate the causes. Last fall, the commission took two steps: It created four complementary grant programs to promote the program and linked it to the Veterans Benefits Administration to make it easier to verify the eligibility of veterans.