How Long Will Affordable Connectivity Program Last

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The affordable connectivity program has helped a lot of people affected by COVID-19 to get online, even for free. But now normality has partly resumed, will people continue to get broadband discounts with their ISP? And for us yet to resume work, how long will affordable connectivity program last before we lose our connection discount?

At this point, a reliable internet connection is as crucial as that smartphone you’re holding right now. A large percentage use it at home to just browse, stream videos, and other forms of entertainment. But we have many that are also working and carrying on with their studies from the house.

Unfortunately, broadband packages are usually not cheap for everyone. In the Frontier vs Xfinity review, we saw a reliable connection of 50Mbps cost over $80 per month for both service & equipment.

However, those who qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program with Verizon and a few other providers can get connected from as low as FREE. You just need to sign up with eligibility proof, as we shall see shortly.

Millions of Households Have Redeemed the ACP Discount So Far

By the end of December 2022, more than 15 million households across the country have enrolled in the affordable connectivity program. California has the highest enrollment per state, with nearly 1.8 households registered.

The largest group (9.05 million households) still applied before 31st December 2021. But at the time, we had the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which the Biden Admissions had passed earlier in the year.

While they might seem different for those new to the topic, EBB and ACP shared a similar goal. They both helped those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to access affordable internet connections.

The only difference we can highlight between the two is the fact that EBB was only short-lived. It ended the moment the Senate passed the $1.2 Trillion billion for infrastructure, which would now include a more permanent broadband program. But, of course, the official takeover (of EBB by ACP) was until the end of the year 2021.

How Long Will the Affordable Connectivity Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was and still is the oversight of the broadband benefit. It is where you can also raise complaints against your provider about the broadband benefit.

Then again, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the body distributing the funds for the ACP. And for that, their website is where you’ll find most of the information about the benefit.

Lucky for you, I’ve done the perusing on USAC archives and compiled all the relevant details there’s to know in this short guide.

The Broadband Allowance with ACP is Smaller than the Previous EBB

After the shuttering of EBB, all the registered households at the time had a 60-day transition to ACP. And this meant they would continue to receive their usual broadband benefit until February 28.

However, not everyone smiled at this news. In the $3.2 billion budget the Congress has allocated for the EBB, each qualifier was receiving up to a $50 broadband discount. The qualifiers on the Tribal lands received the most discount, up to $75, which  is still the case with ACP.

From the $1.2 Trillion I’ve mentioned, $14.1 billion is what the Senate passed for the new Affordable Connectivity Program. And while the amount is 440% more than that of EBB, the qualified households now get a $30 discount.

In the Fact sheet from the White House, twenty ISPs have pledged to offer a high-speed internet plan to ACP-eligible households. “High-speed” being the keyword, these providers agreed to offer at least 100Mbps at $30/ less per month. Spectrum and Frontier are amongst on the list, and so are Verizon, Xfinity, and AT&T

But besides the twenty, we have other 1633 broadband names you can consider both in the urban and in the rural areas. They include all four categories of providers you can register for the affordable connectivity program in your area.


In addition to the broadband discount, the ACP benefit also includes a one-time saving of up to $100 on a connected device. Many of the supported companies give a free tablet as the“connected device”. But the USAC has listed on its website that you could also get a discount on a laptop or desktop computer.

How Long Will the Affordable Connectivity Program Last?

At the time of writing, there was still no definite proof of how long the affordable connectivity program will last. I have seen posts where some publishers claim the benefit is likely to end in 2024. But the real truth is that it could end earlier or long before that.

As I’ve just mentioned, the reserves set aside for the Affordable Connectivity Program are nearly five times larger than that of the Emergency Broadband Benefit. The government aimed to achieve a more long-term program that will bring “affordable” internet services to the underprivileged for a bit longer. Hence, the reason the oversight body, FCC, also reduced the amount the qualified non-tribal households will be receiving.

Earlier on, the FCC used to say that the “Emergency Broadband Benefit will end when the funds allocated to the benefit are depleted or COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic”. But there’s no mention of how long the Affordable Connectivity Program will last- it could carry on forever like the lifeline benefit.

Nonetheless, the Infrastructure Act has recently authorized the FCC to conduct an Outreach for ACP. And as a response, the Commission formed two Affordable Connectivity Pilot Programs, which will help in creating awareness of the ACP benefit.

If interested to participate in these Outreach Pilot Programs (Your Home Your Internet and ACP Navigator), the applications run until January 9, 2023. But since we’re talking about an awareness program, participation is only limited to ACP-related Federal Agencies and their partner groups.

Also, these two Affordable Connectivity Pilot Programs now have a deadline. The Commission allocated them $10 million in funding ($5 million each), which will fund the participants for a one-year term.

Does My Internet Service Provider Offer an Affordable Connectivity Program?

Mm-hmm… probably. As mentioned earlier, there are up to 1653 ISPs that have registered with the FCC to offer ACP benefits. The names on the list include the major providers in metropolises and the small operators offering connections in rural areas.

Fast forward, the four categories of internet providers you can get the affordable connectivity program include:

  1. Fixed Internet Provider

Fixed internet is the first category you can redeem your affordable connectivity program discount. It covers the fixed broadband connection (cable, DSL, or fiber) on a provider like CenturyLink or Xfinity. Then there’s the fixed wireless connection like that of T-Mobile or Frontier Internet.

A fixed internet is the best if you’d like to share the connection with the whole family or work remotely more efficiently. And as I’ve also cited earlier, Verizon, COX, Frontier, Xfinity, and several other ISPs bring you the service from as low as FREE.

If not the free option, you can redeem the $30 discount on a higher plan tier from your desired internet provider. But now you’ll have to pay the remaining balance at the end (or beginning) of the month.

Application Platform: USAC Official page at

  • Lifeline Phone Provider

The lifeline providers with free government phones are also offering the ACP benefit to qualified households. It’s how operators like Access Wireless and SafeLink have been able to offer unlimited everything service. Otherwise, the lifeline-only packages come with capped browsing data and sometimes even talk minutes.

Unfortunately, the “unlimited data” with the ACP benefit through lifeline is still not “unlimited”. The providers tend to throttle your line to lower (2G) speeds after hitting the monthly threshold.

So, the option isn’t exactly the best if you’re a heavy surfer or would like to share your connection with other family members. Some of the lifeline carriers don’t even support mobile hotspots, plus the WiFi support of the provided phones is…. “trashy”.

Application Platform: from your Preferred Lifeline provider

  • Main Phone Carrier

Major carriers are usually the best option if you’d like to browse better on the go. Since they own the towers, they usually prioritize their customers on data speed distribution. Thus, the phone will still be usable even when the network is too busy.

Furthermore, major phone providers do have “truly” unlimited data with no cap. You can browse and stream videos as much as you want without worrying about throttling or overage fees.

Sadly, however, not all the Main Carriers are offering affordable connectivity program benefits to the consumers directly. A perfect example is T-Mobile, which is offering the benefit through its brands Metro and Assurance Wireless.

So, you can only opt for Verizon, AT&T, or US Cellular in this category. And since the service is usually more expensive here, your $30 ACP benefit will only cover part of the bill. The remaining balance will be due at the beginning or end of the month.

Application Platform: USAC Official page at

  • Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)

Last but not least, you can apply for your affordable connectivity program through an MVNO. It’s not all of the subcarriers that offer the benefit, unfortunately. But for those who do, you still get a $30 discount on non-tribal regions and up to $75 subsidy on Tribal lands.

Fortunately, phone service through MVNOs is often cheaper than the Main Carriers. You’ll actually notice most in the group even have some of the plans under the ACP benefit for FREE. A good example is the Red Pocket or Cricket Wireless service.

It’s worth noting most MVNOs throttle (reduce data browsing after hitting the cap) and deprioritize (reduce browsing speed during congestion) data. So, again, the category will not be the best to redeem your ACP benefit if you’re online a lot or would like to share your internet with the family.

Application Platform: USAC Official page at

What You Need to Get the Affordable Connectivity Program

Again, the Affordable Connectivity Program is only available to individuals who cannot afford regular internet connection charges. The FCC limits the program per household, whereby you can’t qualify if another family member is already receiving.

Well, of course, there are cases where family members can apply individually- say, qualified students and their parents/ guardians living separately. People living in the same apartment or even house but don’t share finances can also qualify for the broadband benefit program individually.

And with that said, what you need to get the affordable connectivity program includes either:

  • A low income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines
  • A student on the School Lunch or School Breakfast Program (even from the USDA Community Eligibility Provision).
  • A student with a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
  • Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • You’re already participating in the free government phone service under the Lifeline program
  • You’re on Medicaid, SNAP, FPHA, Public Housing, Veterans & Survivors Pension Benefit, or similar federal welfare programs
  • You participate in tribal-specific programs such as Head Start, TANF, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, et cetera.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, this is the most recent update you should know about the Affordable Connectivity Program. The Federal Communications Commission still holds it as a long-term benefit with no expiration date- yet.

What we can say has a deadline, for now, are the two pilot programs aimed to create awareness of the benefit in the next twelve months.

The awareness campaign targets to help individuals who wish to apply through the federal housing assistance qualification. But I’m sure they will still help you if you applied through either of the other means.