Ting Internet, offering internet services in California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia recently announced that Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) qualifying homes would receive Ting’s premium fiber internet service, at no cost.
The ACP program pays up to $30 a month toward the cost of internet service to low-income households, which means that a service priced at $30 a month is essentially free for qualified customers.
Other companies — including Google Fiber and Underline — have claimed that they have the fastest ACP offering, but Ting indeed seems to have them beat on speed. While the Google Fiber ACP offering supports 300 Mbps service, and Underline’s offering supports 500 Mbps speeds, the Ting offering provides service at speeds of 1-2 Gbps, depending on the community served.
Customers not on ACP pay $89 for the same service. Offering internet service to ACP customers at “no cost” means, in essence, that Ting is subsidizing $59 a month for every ACP home taking its service.
Ting’s SVP Public Policy & Community Engagement, Amol Naik told Telecompetitor that “this is an attempt to move towards digital equity, so that everyone is equal regardless of ability to pay or income level. Just like a household wouldn’t receive inferior water or power, we don’t think they should receive different internet speeds. There are no more tiers when it comes to our ACP offering.”
Naik says this is consistent with parent company Tucow’s commitment to making the internet better. Approximately 40% of Americans qualify for ACP and 21 million Americans households are currently enrolled in the program, according to Naik.
The ACP is expected to run out of funding in 2024 unless the government makes more funding available for it. Naik says that would be a potentially huge step backwards in efforts to bridge the digital divide.
“We are working diligently with industry partners, non-profits, and State governments that are stepping up to ensure ACP remains in place and receives more funding,” explained Naik. “There is a really big group of stakeholders that are not usually on the same side of an issue that are working together to ensure it remains in place. But because ACP is core to what we are doing, we would do everything to work with folks should the worst happen.”
Further, Naik speculated that BEAD projects need the ACP to remain viable, “To strip away ACP while making a $42.5 billion investment in networks really doesn’t make any sense.”