We have good news. As you may know, Congress recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Biden signed into law on November 15. The act provides $65 billion toward broadband internet infrastructure, including $14 billion dollars to address broadband internet affordability for low-income people.
This means that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will transition from the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to a new program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This investment in broadband affordability will help ensure families can afford and access the connections they need for work, school, health care, and more.
Although changes are coming, the EBB program is still available for families and households to get digitally connected, and it is even more important to sign up now and be enrolled by December 31, 2021:
- Anyone enrolled in EBB on December 31, 2021 will automatically transition to the new ACP.
- In 2022, the maximum monthly non-tribal benefit will change from $50 per month to $30 per month, but households enrolled in the EBB program as of December 31, 2021 will continue to receive up to $50 for 60 days after December 31.
- The monthly benefit will remain the same at $75/month for households on qualifying tribal lands.
- When ACP goes into effect in January 2022, households may qualify for the ACP benefit if they receive Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition benefits or have an income at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Lifeline households are automatically eligible, as well as households eligible through most of the EBB eligibility criteria.
- Note: Households that only qualified for the EBB due to a substantial loss of income because of job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 or by meeting the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's COVID-19 program will need to requalify for ACP.
We will be sure to update you as the FCC releases more details regarding the transition from EBB to ACP. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to spread the word about the EBB program with your respective communities and networks and stay connected through the rollover to ACP when the time comes.
As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, we also encourage you to take a minute to thank our congressional leaders (find your representative) (find your senators) for their commitment to broadband accessibility and affordability. We have a long way to go to fully bridge the digital divide, but investment in the ACP is a great step forward to provide everyone the opportunity to get digitally connected.