This is what’s changing – and what isn’t – about the Emergency Broadband Benefit as it becomes the Affordable Connectivity Program
Discounts on internet service will decrease for most, but the hope is more low-income households will enroll
Bowling Green, Kentucky (February 9, 2022) - The new, federal broadband discount program might prove that “less really is more” as it lowers individual household internet discounts but seeks to register even more people in need.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program was originally set up through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which authorized $3.2 billion to help Americans afford internet service during the pandemic. The Act became law on December 27, 2020.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which handles much of broadband policy implementation in the United States, was tasked with administering the EBB. The benefit was set up as a temporary program that would continue only as long as the funds, or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared an end to the COVID-19 health emergency.
However, in November 2021, President Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and American Jobs Act. That bill includes $65 billion for broadband expansion, and $14.2 billion of that was set aside to continue the EBB under its new designation as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
But it comes with one major change.
The discount most low-income households can receive on internet service will decrease. EBB recipients fully enrolled as of December 31, 2021, will continue to receive their current monthly discount of $50 until March 1, 2022, when it will change to $30 a month.
In an email to recipients, the FCC noted that concerned customers should “contact your provider if you are concerned about a possible increase in your monthly service bill or are interested in changing to a different service plan.”
Households located on qualifying Tribal lands will continue to receive a $75 monthly benefit and will not need to take any other action if already enrolled in the EBB. In addition, any household taking part in the ACP is eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer if a participating provider contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Meanwhile, the FCC is pushing hard to increase the number of low-income households registering for the program by sharing details via press releases, emails, and social media. Help spread the word by sharing this story or heading to the FCC's consumer page found here.