In response to a lack of additional funding from Congress, the Wireline Competition Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an Order detailing wind-down procedures for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The program, aimed at providing discounted internet services to low-income households, faces termination due to funding depletion. The Order outlines significant dates, impacts on consumers and providers, and guidelines for the transition period.
The Affordable Connectivity Program, which has been instrumental in providing discounted internet access to over 22 million low-income households across urban and rural areas, is set to exhaust its $14.2 billion funding. The FCC projects that April 2024 will be the last month for which the program can fully reimburse providers for benefits provided to enrolled households. However, if additional funding is not secured, the program will cease, and providers will discontinue offering discounts to enrolled households.
To facilitate an orderly transition, the FCC has laid out wind-down procedures, including notifying enrolled households about the program’s termination’s impact on their broadband service and bills. New enrollments into the ACP have been frozen since February 8, 2024, with existing enrollments set to continue receiving benefits until funding depletion.
Providers are directed to send multiple notices to ACP households, informing them of the program’s end and providing information on alternative broadband service plans, including low-income internet offerings. The FCC also emphasizes the importance of providers helping ACP households transition to their own low-income internet programs.
Furthermore, the FCC has waived certain advertising and awareness requirements effective February 8, 2024, to prevent consumer confusion during the wind-down period. Additionally, outreach efforts under the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program and ACP Pilot Programs will cease focusing on enrollment activities due to the enrollment freeze.
The full text of the Order and further information can be accessed on the FCC’s website.
For further inquiries, contact Benjamin Nashed at Benjamin.Nashed@fcc.gov or 202-418-7400.
Read the full document here.