Twenty internet companies have agreed to provide discounted higher-speed internet service to tens of millions of Americans with low incomes, President Joe Biden announced on Monday, May 9.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, funded by $14.2 billion included in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that Congress passed in 2021, provides $30 monthly internet subsidies, and $75 monthly subsidies in tribal areas, for lower-income households.
VERIFY viewer Deborah texted the team to ask how to sign up for the discounted internet service.
Do eligible Americans need to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program to get discounted internet service?
Yes, eligible Americans need to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program to get discounted internet service.
WHAT WE FOUND
Households qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) based on their income or through participation in some federal programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), among others.
The agencies that manage these federal programs will be reaching out to households that qualify for the ACP, according to the White House. For example, SSI recipients who have a “My Social Security” account will receive emails letting them know they’re eligible. Some U.S. cities and states will also send text messages to millions of eligible Americans.
People are eligible for the program if their income is 200% or less than the federal poverty guidelines. That is $27,180 for a one-person household in 48 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), and $55,500 for a four-person household. You can find more information about income limits based on household size on the program’s website.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the government agency overseeing the program, there are two steps for those looking to enroll in the program.
First, submit an application online or visit the ACP website to print out a mail-in application. Second, once your application is approved, contact a participating internet provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Some people may receive immediate approval, while others might have to send additional documentation for review. The FCC says some internet providers might also have an alternative application that must be completed.
Major internet providers, including CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity and Spectrum, also have instructions online about applying for the ACP.
All five providers say customers must first qualify for the program through applying on the ACP website. Then, you can either complete a form online (for CenturyLink) or call (for Verizon and Spectrum) to enroll in the program. AT&T and Xfinity have more information about options for enrolling in the program on their websites, too.
What if you are already subscribed to another low-income internet program?
Those who are already subscribed to Lifeline, a federal program that lowers the cost of phone or internet service, do not need to reapply for the ACP, according to the program’s website. Instead, they can reach out to their internet company directly to enroll.
Lifeline subscribers can also talk to their provider about the services they might offer as part of the ACP, including the option to apply discounts to their existing service.
People who already participate in another low-income program with their internet provider likely don’t need to apply again to get the ACP discount. They should reach out to their internet company directly to see if they can enroll in the program.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.