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More affordable Internet and cellphone service is here to stay

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Greater Boston Legal Services
Reviewed January 2022

On January 1, 2022, the federal government created a new program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP replaces the temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) benefit.

ACP helps people pay for:

  • Internet service, and
  • A laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.

You can be a new customer or an existing customer of a participating provider.

How much help can I get?

Internet

You can get up to $30 off your monthly bill for Internet service and equipment rentals.

You can get up to $75 off if you live on eligible Tribal lands. You do not need to be a member of the Tribe.

Device

You can also get a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. You will have to pay between $10 and $50 for the device. Only some Internet providers offer the device discount.

Can I get ACP?

You can get ACP if:

  • Your income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Level. Or
  • Your household qualifies for a low-income program that a participating Internet provider already offers. Or
  • At least 1 member of your household gets help from:
    • Medicaid (Most types of MassHealth),
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance including Section 8,
    • Veterans’ Pension and Survivors’ Benefit,
    • Pell Grant in the current award year,
    • Lifeline,
    • Tribal Programs
    • Free and Reduced Price School Lunch or Breakfast Program
    • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program.

You have to apply for ACP first. Then enroll with a participating Internet provider.

What if I owe my Internet provider money or I have bad credit?

As long as you qualify, you can still get help from ACP even if:

  • You owe your Internet provider past bills, or
  • Your bills have gone to collections.

How do I apply for the ACP?

You can:

  • Apply online.
  • Apply by mail.
    • Print an application in English, Spanish or one of 8 other languages.
    • Complete the application, household worksheet, and send with proof of eligibility to:
      ACP Support Center
      P.O. Box 7081
      London, KY 40742
  • Or Contact an Internet provider who is participating in the ACP.

If you are getting Lifeline or participating in a provider’s low-income plan, you can enroll in ACP. You do not need to apply first.

When you apply for ACP, you will need to submit documents that prove:

Make sure you put the same  name on the ACP application that you use to get help from the benefits program. This must also match the name you use with your Internet provider, exactly.

For example

If you get benefits under the name Suarez-Valencia, make sure your Internet provider also has your name as Suarez-Valencia. Put Suarez-Valencia as your last name on your ACP application.

Who are the "participating providers"?

Not all internet providers are participating providers.  See the list of providers participating in ACP on the Federal Communications Commission's website.

When you look for a provider think about:

  • Coverage in your area. See the Companies near me tool to help you find a provider in your area.
  • The kind of service you need - "fixed" or mobile Internet. Fixed Internet service is connected to one place, like your home. Mobile is connected to a device, like your phone.
  • The number of devices you need to connect to the Internet. More devices mean you need more bandwidth.
  • How quickly you need your device to respond. The speed of your Internet service is different from bandwidth.
  • If you need a device. Some providers also offer a discount on laptops, desktops, or tablets or phones.

Can I get help to apply?

Call or Email the ACP Support Center.

They are open 7 days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and they offer help in almost 200 languages.

The ACP Support Center can help with questions about:

  • Your application,
  • Documents needed to show you qualify,
  • Companies in your area, and
  • Resetting your password.

What if our household was already in the EBB program?

If you were already signed up for EBB, you will continue to get a $50 discount on your service until March 1, 2022.

Your Internet provider should have sent you information about the Affordable Connectivity Program and how to enroll.

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