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When Did ACP Program Start?: Unveiling the Digital Bridge

Written by: Jeremy Moore
August 5, 2023

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) represents a landmark initiative by the U.S. government to address the pressing need for internet accessibility. The question "When did ACP Program start?" often arises due to the significant impact it has had on digital infrastructure in a relatively short span of time. In response, the ACP was officially launched and signed into law on November 15, 2021, with enrollments commencing from December 31, 2021.

The Emergence of the ACP

During the global pandemic, the essentiality of broadband connectivity escalated. As the workforce and education systems shifted online, and telehealth services became prevalent, the digital divide became more prominent.

The U.S. government initially introduced the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in 2021 to mitigate this issue. However, this was considered a temporary solution. To ensure a sustainable resolution to the increasing digital divide, the Affordable Connectivity Program was introduced, aiming to provide eligible low-income households with a monthly discount on broadband services.

Operationalization of the ACP

With the ink barely dry on the law, the Affordable Connectivity Program kicked into high gear, officially opening its doors for enrollment on December 31, 2021. During these initial days, the emphasis was on spreading awareness about the program and facilitating the application process for potential beneficiaries. To this end, multiple informational campaigns were launched to reach out to eligible households across the country.

Key Features of the ACP: Discounts and Other Benefits

The ACP offers substantial financial support for eligible households to afford their internet services. The primary benefit is a discount of up to $30 per month on broadband services. This ensures that households can maintain their internet connections, keeping them linked with essential services and opportunities in education, employment, and healthcare.

Moreover, the ACP also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from a participating provider. This provision addresses the hardware aspect of digital accessibility, further enhancing the program's comprehensive approach towards bridging the digital divide.

Special Provisions: The Additional Support for Households on Tribal Lands

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by households on tribal lands, the ACP includes special provisions for these communities. In addition to the standard benefits, households on tribal lands are eligible for an increased discount of up to $45 per month for broadband services. This additional support aims to address the higher costs and lower availability of broadband services in these areas, ensuring equitable access for all.

Eligibility for the ACP

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) defines eligibility based on several factors and programs designed to reach those most in need of financial support for internet services. The main eligibility criteria are:

Income Level: Households at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible for the ACP.

Substantial Loss of Income: Households that have experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, are eligible.

Receipt of a Federal Pell Grant: Households with a member who received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year are eligible.

Participation in Assistance Programs: Households are also eligible if a member participates in any of the following assistance programs:

  • Free and reduced-price school lunch program

  • Medicaid

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

  • Lifeline

How to Apply for the ACP

If you have established your eligibility based on the aforementioned criteria, the next step is to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Follow the steps outlined below to apply:

  1. Confirm Your Eligibility: Visit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s official website or reach out to an approved provider to confirm your household's eligibility.

  2. Gather Necessary Documentation: You will need to provide documentation to prove your eligibility. This could include documentation demonstrating your income level, proof of job loss or furlough, or evidence of participation in any of the qualifying assistance programs.

  3. Apply Through a Participating Broadband Provider or Online: You can apply for the ACP in one of two ways: Through a participating broadband provider or Online via the National Verifier website

  4. Submit Your Application: Submit your completed application, along with all necessary documentation. You can do this online via the National Verifier or through your chosen participating broadband provider.

  5. Await Approval: Once your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed for approval. If approved, you will be able to avail of the discounts and benefits offered by the ACP.

Remember that the benefits of the ACP, including the monthly discount and the one-time discount for purchasing a device, can only be availed of through a participating provider. You should therefore ensure that the provider you choose to apply through is participating in the program.

Impact and Evolution of the ACP

Since its inception, the ACP has taken monumental strides in bridging the digital divide. Thousands of households have reaped the benefits of the program, gaining access to affordable, reliable internet connectivity. The impact of the ACP extends far beyond providing internet access; it enables remote work, distance education, and access to healthcare services, becoming increasingly crucial in the digital age.

Furthermore, the program has continuously evolved to cater to the changing needs of its beneficiaries. Since the initial rollout of the ACP, adjustments have been made to enhance its effectiveness. This continual evolution ensures the program's relevance and impact, aiming to achieve affordable internet connectivity for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I still apply for the ACP if I was part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

Yes, if you were part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, you could still apply for the ACP. Many households that were previously a part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program were transitioned into the ACP.

How can I find a participating broadband provider?

The FCC maintains a list of participating providers on their website. This list includes providers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories.

Can I change my broadband provider after enrolling in the ACP?

Yes, you can change your broadband provider after enrolling in the ACP. However, you should confirm that the new provider is participating in the ACP before making a change.

What happens if my household income increases during my enrollment in the ACP?

If your household income increases beyond the program's income threshold, or if your household no longer meets the eligibility criteria for any other reason, you should notify your broadband provider or the National Verifier as soon as possible. It's important to remember that households must be eligible to receive benefits under the ACP.

Can I avail of the ACP benefits if I live in a multi-dwelling unit or a group living facility?

Yes, residents of multi-dwelling units (like apartment buildings) and group living facilities can be eligible for the ACP if they meet the eligibility criteria. However, the benefits apply per household, not per person.


In addressing the digital divide, many ask, "When did ACP Program start?" To answer that, while the Affordable Connectivity Program is still in its early stages, its inception on November 15, 2021, has already played a vital role in reducing the digital divide in the United States. By providing financial aid for broadband services to eligible households, the ACP equips individuals and families with essential tools for robust digital engagement. As it continues to evolve, the program's promise to enhance digital inclusion grows ever more profound.

Learn more about the eligibility criteria for ACP and avail the discounts you need to improve your quality of life. Keep reading We Are All USA to discover more benefits.

Jeremy Moore
With a deep understanding of the challenges faced by individuals in difficult financial circumstances, Jeremy is dedicated to empowering others to access the benefits, grants, and assistance programs that can transform their lives.
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