ACP Benefit Will be $14 or Less for May: Providers Review

ACP Benefit Will be $14 or Less for May

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced significant cuts to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) benefits due to funding shortages, potentially affecting millions of low-income households across the United States.

The reduction in benefits, which are set to begin in May, highlights the urgent need for Congressional action to replenish the program’s resources.

Currently, non-tribal ACP subscribers are set to receive a maximum of $14 in May, a sharp decrease from the usual $30 monthly benefit.

Meanwhile, tribal area subscribers will see their benefits reduced to a maximum of $35, down from the regular $75, and the subsidy for connected devices will be capped at $47, significantly lower than the previous $100 limit.

In April, the FCC confirmed that the program could only disburse 46% of the standard benefits in May due to the limited remaining funds.

This announcement marks the first concrete impact of Congress’s failure to extend the program’s financing, which was initially infused with a one-time allocation of $14 billion when the program was created in 2021.

The ACP’s financial strain is worsened by the lack of legislative progress in extending its funding. Although the Biden administration has repeatedly called on Congress to secure additional funding, partisan disagreements have slowed potential advancements.

ACP Benefits Will be $14 or Less for May
ACP Benefit Will be $14 or Less for May

House Speaker Mike Johnson has been notably reluctant in his stance regarding the legislation. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer advocates approving extra funds to continue the program.

Amidst the funding crisis, a bipartisan bill seeking to allocate an additional $7 billion to the ACP gains traction in the Senate.

The bill, co-sponsored by Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall, now has the support of five Senators. The House version of the bill is backed by 223 members, indicating significant bipartisan support.

The FCC’s public order detailed that these reduced benefits in May might not be the final cuts, depending on available funding and program demand.

Without new funds, the ACP is expected to end completely in June, with no benefits disbursed thereafter.

This potential shutdown threatens to disconnect millions from critical internet services, affecting seniors, veterans, and families with school-age children who rely on the internet for educational purposes.

Service providers play a crucial role in this transitional period. The FCC has encouraged providers to continue supporting ACP beneficiaries by offering their own low-cost plans or maintaining the existing benefits at their expense.

Major providers like AT&T and Comcast have already announced plans to bridge the gap.

AT&T is set to continue its Access from AT&T service, which provides low-income internet at $30 per month.

Similarly, Comcast has assured that ACP participants will automatically qualify for its Internet Essentials service, which offers connectivity at $9.95 per month or enhanced service at $30 per month for higher speeds.

The FCC’s latest directives also suggest that providers inform customers about alternative low-income programs available, ensuring that the transition away from federal benefits does not leave users without any viable options.

As the debate over funding continues, the fate of the ACP remains unsteady, with the potential economic and social repercussions being prominent.

The program’s popularity across various demographic and political lines underscores the critical need for swift legislative action to prevent a significant step back in the nation’s progress toward universal internet access.

About the author

Eliana Cooper

Eliana Cooper is an esteemed editor at World-Wire, recognized for her expertise in sports and government news. With a background in Journalism and Political Science, she excels in delivering in-depth and factual reporting. Her work is known for its thorough research and clear presentation, making complex topics accessible. Eliana's contributions have earned her recognition, including the "Excellence in Sports Journalism" award in 2023.

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