Have heard about the new government assistance program by the FCC, called the Affordable Connectivity Program? If you have, you may have heard that it offers quite generous benefits to eligible customers, which is indeed correct information. However, does it offer both free cell phones and tablets? That’s the question that we’ll explore today. To find out more about getting an ACP free phone and tablet, read the following sections.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a program by the FCC designed to help households afford the broadband they need for various purposes, such as work, school, and healthcare. It offers a discount of up to $30 per month on internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for those on qualifying Tribal lands. If eligible, households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for purchasing a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers, provided that they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 towards the purchase price. Each household is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount.
The government recently launched this program because of the growing need for people to have a reliable internet connection and an electronic device that can access the World Wide Web. Having these benefits enables low-income people who are unable to afford them to seek employment, work, get an online education, browse for information, contact services, enjoy entertainment, and stay in touch with loved ones.
Is it Possible to Get an ACP Free Phone and Tablet?
Technically, the Affordable Connectivity Program only offers ‘free’ (actually, they are not free but severely discounted, as you can see above) tablets, laptops, or desktop computers, as well as free monthly broadband services. Moreover, while all ACP participating companies offer discounts on monthly services, only a few offer discounts on devices.
Nevertheless, as most ACP providers also provide Lifeline benefits, the line between what each benefit offers is quite blurry. For instance, strictly speaking, Lifeline offers a monthly discount of up to $9.25 on phone or wireless service and up to $34.25 for those on Tribal lands, as well as free cell phones. Wireless companies that participate in both programs and receive funds from the government for Lifeline and ACP then tend to combine the funds and redistribute the benefits how they see fit.
While many companies only offer phone services and free cell phones to Lifeline subscribers and free wireless internet services (and potentially tablets) to ACP subscribers, AirTalk Wireless has redistributed the benefits, offering a free SIM card without a phone to subscribers of the Lifeline plan, a free basic smartphone to ACP plan subscribers, and a free more advanced smartphone of the customer’s own choice to customers who qualify for the Lifeline and ACP Combo plan. You can only purchase a discounted tablet if you are an ACP participant.
As such, some companies do offer a free phone and tablet through just ACP and others don’t. Others may require you to participate in both ACP and Lifeline if you wish to receive both devices, as ACP subscribers can only receive free tablets. Nevertheless, luckily, ACP and Lifeline have very similar eligibility criteria. Lifeline subscribers automatically qualify for ACP and while it doesn’t go the other way around, many ACP subscribers still qualify for Lifeline as well. If you can, apply for both programs, as this is the safest way to get both a free phone and tablet through the government.
How Can I Get an ACP Free Phone and Tablet
To get a free government phone and tablet, we suggest you follow these steps carefully:
- Check whether or not you are eligible for both Lifeline and ACP. If you qualify for Lifeline, you will automatically also qualify for ACP. However, if you only qualify for ACP, don’t worry, as you may still be able to receive both a free phone and tablet. See the eligibility criteria below.
- Prove your government assistance program eligibility by providing copies of certain valid official documents that include all the vital information.
- Apply for both Lifeline and ACP if possible, or just ACP. See how below.
- Find a government assistance provider that operates in your area and offers free phones and tablets either through both Lifeline and ACP or just through ACP (like AirTalk Wireless). Apply for the company’s services.
- Finally, if your application gets approved and you are granted an ACP free phone and tablet, you can enjoy your benefits.
Now that you have an idea of what you need to do to get the benefits you wish to receive, let’s dive into exactly how to navigate each step.
Am I Eligible to Receive an ACP Free Phone and Tablet
Let’s find out! As mentioned before, it’s best to qualify for both government assistance programs (Lifeline and ACP), as this way your chances of receiving both devices will be higher. If you think that you only qualify for Lifeline, let’s reassure you that there is no such thing, as being a Lifeline subscriber automatically qualifies you for ACP as well. On the other hand, you can only qualify for ACP but even if that is the case, you may still be able to receive an ACP free phone and tablet.
If you answer any of the following questions with yes, it means that you qualify for Lifeline (and then consequently for ACP as well):
- Is your household’s annual income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines? (You can check the acceptable income level for your state and household size at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/do-i-qualify/)
- Do you or any other member of your household participate in one of the following government assistance programs?
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka. Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
If you are not Lifeline eligible, you can still qualify for the ACP through another method. If you answer any of the following questions with yes, it means that you qualify for ACP:
- Is your household’s annual income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines? (You can check the acceptable income level for your state and household size at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/do-i-qualify/)
- Do you or any other member of your household participate in one of the following government assistance programs?
- Any of the Lifeline-qualifying programs listed above
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program
- Did your household receive a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year?
Moreover, to apply for any government assistance program, you must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor and a resident of one of the states where your selected provider operates. If you qualify for ACP or both, congratulations – you may now proceed to the next step.
How Do I Prove My ACP Eligibility for Free Phone and Tablet
It’s not enough to simply claim that you qualify for Lifeline and/or ACP; you must also provide evidence to support your eligibility. This can be done by submitting an official document that contains all the necessary information. Depending on your specific eligibility requirements, you may need to prove your low income or participation in qualifying programs. You may also be asked to provide additional personal information.
- To demonstrate your low income, you can submit a document that includes your full name and income, such as a Social Security statement, paycheck stubs, a current income statement from your employer, an Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits, or a tax return.
- To show that you participate in a qualifying assistance program, you must provide a document that includes your full name, the name of the program, the name of the establishment that issued the document, and an issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date, such as the approval letter, benefit award letter, statement of benefits, or benefit verification letter.
- You may also need to verify your identity, age, emancipation status, address, or other information.
It’s important to prepare clear copies of all necessary documents in advance. It’s crucial to never send original documents.
How Do I Apply for an ACP Free Phone and Tablet
When applying, it’s best to first apply through the National Verifier – an institution designed to assess your Lifeline and ACP eligibility. If you do so online, you can apply for both programs at once. This way is much simpler and faster and you may receive immediate approval.
To apply online, go to https://nv.fcc.gov/lifeline?id=acp&awsl=link-from-how-to-apply, log in or create a new account if necessary, complete the application form by providing all the required information and digital documentation copies, and submit the application.
However, you can also apply via mail if you wish to do so. You can apply for both programs or just ACP. To do so, print out physical application forms. The Lifeline form is available at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/get-lifeline/LI_Application_NVstates.pdf, while the ACP form can be found at https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf. When applying for ACP, also include a Household Worksheet, available at https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf. Complete all forms, add physical copies of your proof documentation, and send the package to Lifeline/ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
If your application gets approved, you will be notified. Then, you can proceed to find a provider and apply through it as well.
How Do I Find an ACP Free Phone and Tablet Provider Near Me
Finding an ACP (and/or Lifeline) provider near you is easy. You can simply visit https://cnm.universalservice.org/, enter your location, choose the program you are looking for (Lifeline or ACP), and press enter. When you get a list of all the available companies in your area, make sure to note which ones offer discounted devices (it’s marked on the side). You can then contact each of those providers via the provided contact information to ask if they offer a free phone and tablet.
In the United States, there are several Lifeline and ACP companies, but their offers differ significantly. While some providers only offer discounts on monthly services, others may also provide a discount on a device such as a phone or tablet. However, only a handful of providers offer both a free government phone and tablet. These providers include:
- AirTalk Wireless (review the offer and sign up at https://airtalkwireless.com/)
- Cintex Wireless (review the offer and sign up at https://cintexwireless.com/)
- Easy Wireless (review the offer and sign up at https://myeasywireless.com/)
- NewPhone Wireless (review the offer and sign up at https://newphone.com/)
- Q Link Wireless (review the offer and sign up at https://qlinkwireless.com/)
- StandUp Wireless (review the offer and sign up at https://standupwireless.com/)
What Kind of ACP Free Phone and Tablet Can I Receive
Easy Wireless, Q Link Wireless, and StandUp Wireless (as well as most other Lifeline and ACP providers) are very secretive about which device brand and model a customer can get, simply because the offer may vary by state, plan, and availability. However, you can expect to receive a mid-range Android phone and/or tablet from such companies.
AirTalk Wireless, Cintex Wireless, and NewPhone Wireless, on the other hand, have slightly different logic. Their plans vary by state and while you can expect to receive a basic phone (and/or tablet) through the ACP (or Lifeline) Only plan, customers who qualify for the Lifeline & ACP Combo plan can actually choose both devices themselves. These companies will allow you to choose from a variety of high-quality phones and tablets from the best brands.
Currently available phones include:
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Apple iPhone 7
- Unimax U696CL
- Apple iPhone 8
- Samsung Galaxy A50, and more.
Currently available tablets include:
- Apple iPad Air
- Samsung Galaxy Tab E
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S5
- Alcatel Joy Tab 2
- Apple iPad Mini 3, and more.
Can I Get Any Other Benefits
If you qualify for any of the above-listed companies, you are also likely to receive a free monthly wireless service plan that includes free monthly talk minutes, text messages, data, and other convenient calling features.