Changes Coming to Federal EBB Program
As part of the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress created a new, long-term program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to provide Internet and connected device subsidies to low-income households. ACP will replace the previous, short-term Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) program that was included in the second COVID-relief bill in 2021.
What's Changing from EBB to ACP?
- The maximum monthly benefit will be reduced from $50 per month to $30 per month. Not changing: eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
- Households have new ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program such as: receiving WIC benefits or having an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Note: The NSLP requires only requires incomes to be 185% or below the federal poverty guidelines, thus the income levels to qualify for ACP are slightly lower than qualifying for NSLP.
- Households that qualified for EBB due to a substantial loss of income due to 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 the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Note: The EBB program also permitted all households that had at least one student attending a USDA CEP school to automatically qualify for the EBB benefits (PA has 1170 CEP participating schools). The FCC is currently seeking comments on various ACP policy issues and the automatic CEP-qualification is one area where the FCC may make a change as it has been reported that some service providers were fraudulently enrolling EBB participants by falsely claiming a student attended a CEP school. I’ll let you know what the FCC ultimately decides.
When Will ACP Begin?
Applications for the current EBB program are still being accepted at https://www.getemergencybroadband.org/ or consumers can simply reach out to a local Internet Service Provider to enroll. Enrollment for the EBB Program will end on December 30, 2021 and any consumers enrolled in the EBB Program before 6 p.m. ET on December 30, 2021 will continue to receive their current monthly benefit (up to $50/month) during the 60-day transition period, which ends on March 1, 2022. After the transition period, the maximum monthly benefit will change from $50 per month to $30 per month for households. Applications for the new ACP program will be accepted beginning December 31, 2021.
For general program support, consumers should email EBBHelp@usac.org or call the Emergency Broadband Support Center at 833-511-0311 for assistance.