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The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Benefit Ended April 30

Affordability

Broadband connectivity goes beyond the poles and wires across communities.  To ensure access, individuals must be able to access broadband service.  Access includes financial affordability, access to equipment, and support for training to use digital services. 

 

More information on MCA’s broader work to ensure digital equity for all is available on our digital equity initiatives page.

MCA Contact

Kiera Reardon
State Policy & Agency Partnerships Manager

kreardon@maineconnectivity.org 

(207) 370-4123

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
was tasked to develop and maintain the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – a federal program that
offered eligible households a discount on their monthly internet bill and a one-time discount off the
purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. The ACP was a $14.2 billion program that launched in
December 2021, but after two-and-a-half years of offering discounts on internet service and connected
devices to low-income consumers, the funding Congress initially made available for the ACP has since
run out.  Due to a lack of additional funding from Congress, the Affordable Connectivity Program has ended for now. Effective June 1, 2024, households will no longer receive an ACP discount.

 

 

Households are also encouraged to consult their internet company to learn more about how the end of the ACP will impact their internet service and bill, if they wished to continue service after the ACP has ended. 

 

Questions to ask internet companies
Here are some recommended questions that households should ask when contacting their internet provider to discuss options now that the ACP has ended:

  • How has my internet bill changed?

  • Will I continue to receive internet service (did I opt in or out previously)?

    • If so, what will be my out-of-pocket expense for my internet service?

    • If I did not previously opt-in to receive internet service, what should I do if I want to continue internet service?

  • Are there other low-cost internet plans or programs that will meet my household needs?

Discounts Available Through the Lifeline Program
Households may also be eligible for the FCC’s Lifeline program, which offers up to $9.25 a month off
phone, internet, or bundled phone and internet services (up to $34.25 if you live on qualifying Tribal
lands). Not all ACP recipients will qualify for Lifeline and not all ACP internet companies participate in
the Lifeline program. To learn more about the difference between the ACP and the Lifeline program,
visit: www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers

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Looking Ahead: Affordability in the Age of BEAD and the Digital Equity Act

By statute, Maine’s long-term broadband deployment goals include two specific goals related to affordability which serve as the basis of all MCA programming, including the upcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and implementation of Digital Equity Act funds:

  1. There be secure, affordable, reliable, competitive and sustainable forward-looking advanced communications technology infrastructure that can meet current and future needs

  2. All residents, businesses and institutions in the State be able to take full advantage of the economic, health, educational and other opportunities available through connectivity services 

In planning for BEAD, 90% of the Maine people who responded to the Maine Broadband Survey cited affordability as the critical issue limiting the utilization of high-speed internet. Further, awareness of and access to resources, including affordable devices, service plans and tools to stay safe online, was identified as the second and third most important limiting factors.

 

This feedback informed Maine's Broadband Action Plan, Digital Equity Plan, and BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1 and 2. These three plans work together to outline how MCA will plan and implement the BEAD Program in Maine to achieve our broadband deployment goals by centering digital equity in our strategies. In particular:

  • BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 2 outlines scoring criteria for choosing subgrantees that will build BEAD-funded infrastructure and offer affordable service tiers, including Low-Cost Service Options and Middle-Class Affordability Plans.

  • Digital Equity Plan outlines the Affordable Devices for ME Statewide Campaign to donate new and refurbished devices to help meet MCA’s goal of securing 25,000 donated devices and improving affordable device access to covered populations and workforce development partners. Ahead of receiving Digital Equity Act implementation funds, MCA has created a pilot project in partnership with Give IT. Get IT. to build capacity for Maine's ability to achieve this goal. Learn more about that project here

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The ACP4ME Campaign

The ACP4ME campaign was MCA's statewide initiative to increase awareness and enrollment into the ACP. In partnership with Education SuperHighway, a national non-profit working to close the broadband affordability gap, we worked to build a statewide coalition of local communities and trusted institutions to raise awareness of this critical program through earned and social media.

As part of the broader ACP4ME campaign, MCA organized a statewide Week of Action to increase awareness of and enrollment in the ACP from August 4-12, 2023. There were no less than 18 in-person ACP enrollment events across the state, countless engagements online and on social media, and the ACP was featured on three local news outlets. 

 

When the ACP4ME campaign started in April 2023, 74,841 eligible households were enrolled in the ACP (31% of those eligible). By February 2024, 98,639 eligible households were in enrolled in the ACP (41% of those eligible). We thank all of our partners across the state who worked did outreach directly in communities to get these enrollments up. We are proud of what we were able to accomplish in Maine. 

ACP Wind Down
ACP4ME Campaign
Affordability in BEAD
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