New federal program is helping eligible households get internet
Alabamians looking to save on internet costs can do so through a new federal plan. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a new plan created through the Federal Communication Commission to help eligible households save money on their internet costs.
Alejandro Roark, the chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau for the FCC, said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the issue of Americans across the country not having proper access to internet.
“I think the COVID-19 global health crisis really underscored the importance of having internet access to sustain critical aspects of our everyday lives. Having affordable internet is needed to access telehealth services, to facilitate online learning, to access remote work options, or just staying connected with our friends and loved ones,” Roark said.
He said the program is being funded through the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act and bipartisan infrastructure investment.
The ACP will provide eligible households with a $30 monthly saving or $75 monthly savings for residents who live on federally recognized tribal lands.
Roark also said the price of internet is an issue for some Americans and the ACP helps to ease this price gap for households.
“For many households, the price of internet service has really been the main barrier. And so the Affordable Connectivity Program is and continues to be, I think, an important lifeline for those folks,” Roark said.
There are currently 377,000 households in Alabama enrolled in the ACP. Roark said many more households in the state are eligible.
Households can be eligible for the ACP in a variety of ways. Income eligibility and participation in federal assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, federal housing assistance or other programs are also eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
The Affordable Connectivity Program aims to help residents in underserved and rural areas.
“When we think about rural and small town Americans, they also require access to 21st century communications tools and technology to stay plugged in and competitive in our rapidly evolving digital economy. And so, the Affordable Connectivity Program, it continues to bring these benefits of mobile broadband to rural America,” Roark said.
Roark also said infrastructure in rural areas is an issue that plays into internet connectivity in those areas.
The program is also accessible to residents who may not speak English as their first language.
“We have support and program information available in multiple languages through our ACP Support Center through fcc.gov/acp. So, I think that we've been really intentional to ensure that all kind of program information and resource materials are made available in multiple languages,” Roark said.
There are currently 21 million households across America enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Residents can check their eligibility status and get more information about the Affordable Connectivity Program at getinternet.gov or call the ACP Support Center at 877-384-2575.