What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and How Does It Work?
The Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP is a government assistance program by the FCC designed to ensure that low-income households can afford the broadband they need for work, education, healthcare, and more.
The ACP is a new program that has replaced the old, temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program on December 31, 2021. The old, temporary EBB program offered similar benefits as the ACP program and as it has proven to be vital for millions of Americans, the U.S. Congress has recently passed a bill to replace the short-term EBB program with a long-term program, which offers similar benefits.
Most former EBB providers have simply replaced the expired EBB program with the new ACP program and former EBB customers can now enroll in the new ACP program and continue to receive similar benefits. Customers who have enrolled in the former EBB program prior to December 31, 2021, will automatically continue to receive their current monthly benefit until March 1, 2022.
ACP provides two types of discounts – monthly service discounts and device discounts. Eligible households can get a discount of up to $30 a month toward broadband internet (up to $75 a month for eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands). ACP-eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer from a participating provider by contributing more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. While all ACP providers offer monthly service discounts, only some of them offer one-time device discounts.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Who Is Eligible for the ACP Free Tablet or Laptop?
To receive an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet or enjoy any type of ACP benefits (service or device discounts), you must be ACP-eligible.
A household is ACP-eligible if a member of the household meets one or more of the criteria below:
- Has an annual household income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Participates in a specific government assistance program, such as:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Participates in a specific Tribal program, such as:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal TANF
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year.
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program.
To receive an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet and other ACP benefits, you must also be 18 years old or more or an emancipated minor. In addition, you must be a resident of the state where a suitable ACP provider offers its services.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for ACP Free Tablet?
When applying for the ACP benefit, the provider will try to confirm your identity, address, and eligibility. In case the provider is unable to do, you may need to provide additional information or documentation.
Depending on your eligibility criteria, you may need to provide any of the following documents:
- An official document proving your participation in qualifying government assistance programs, which includes your full legal name, the name of the program, the name of the establishment that issued the document, and an issue date within the last 12 months. Document examples: benefit award letter, approval letter, statement of benefits, or a benefit verification letter.
- An official document that shows that your annual income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which includes your full name and your annual income. Document examples: prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return, current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub, a Social Security statement of benefits, Veterans Administration statement of benefits, Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits, divorce decree, child support award, or a retirement/pension statement of benefits.
- An official document that verifies your identity, which includes your full name and date of birth. Document examples: a valid government, military, state, or Tribal ID, birth certificate, U.S. driver’s license, passport, certificate of U.S. citizenship or naturalization, permanent resident card or Green Card, government assistance program document, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) document.
- An official document that verifies your address, which includes your full name and your physical address. Document examples: driver’s license, valid government, state, or Tribal ID, utility bill, mortgage or lease statement, or most recent W-2 or tax return.
In case you live with another adult who participates in the ACP and receive ACP benefit (which is generally limited to one per eligible household), you will be required to answer certain questions to find out if your household qualifies for more than one benefit.
As only people of 18 years and older and emancipated minors can participate in the ACP program, emancipated minors will also be required to provide an official document proving their emancipated minor status, such as a court document or the certificate of emancipation.
You will probably be able to submit your documents online, however, you can also do so by mail. Make copies or take pictures of the documents using a camera, smartphone, copy machine, or scanner. Do not send dark or blurry copies, and most importantly, never submit original copies.
How to Apply for Affordable Connectivity Program Free Tablet or Laptop
To apply for an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet, you must follow the simple steps below:
- Step 1: Confirm your ACP eligibility. Before signing up for ACP benefits, make sure you qualify. See the eligibility criteria in the section ‘Who Is Eligible for the ACP Free Tablet or Laptop?’.
- Step 2: Locate an ACP provider that offers services and ACP free tablets in your state of residence. You can see the full list of ACP providers by the state at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers.
Note: Some ACP providers only offer discounts on monthly internet services. In addition, not all of the providers that do offer discounts on connected devices offer free tablets. Some of them offer one-time discounts on computers, laptops, or even smartphones instead. Check out the ACP program benefits from the ACP providers that have a ‘tick’ under ‘Offering Connected Devices’. You can see which ACP providers offer ACP free tablets in the section ‘Which Broadband Providers Offer Free Tablets Under the Affordable Connectivity Program?’ below.
- Step 3: Once you find a provider that offers Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablets in your state of residence, visit its website and find their ACP application form. Fill out the provider’s application form by providing all the required information and documentation that prove your eligibility. If you have any questions, contact the provider’s customer support service.
Alternatively, you can apply directly at acpbenefit.org and then contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
- Step 4: After submitting the application, allow a couple of days for the provider to let you know if you have successfully enrolled and when to expect your Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet.
Which Tablets and Laptops Are Available Free of Cost Under the ACP?
When you apply for the ACP program at any provider, the provider will only let you know whether you can receive an ACP free tablet, laptop, computer, phone, or just the monthly service. However, the provider will not tell you exactly which device you may receive. The device brand and model depend on several factors, including the provider, the state, and product availability. Nevertheless, most ACP providers usually offer new or refurbished mid-range devices with all the basic features. For example, all Q Link Wireless tablets come with the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities.
Currently, some Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet or laptop providers offer the following tablets and laptops:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
- LG G Pad 5- 4GB LTE Tab
- Lenovo Tab 5
- New Microsoft Surface Go 2
- Google Chromebook
What Are the Best Specifications of ACP Free Tablets
As mentioned before, ACP providers do not usually provide the latest devices with the most advanced features. Instead, they offer high-quality and reliable tablets, laptops, and desktops with basic specifications. Some of the best specifications of ACP free tablets include:
- Processor: Intel Core
- Chipset: i3 Core
- Operating system: Android latest
- RAM: 8 GB
- Internal memory: 128 GB
- External memory: 512 GB
- Display: 12.3 PixelSense display
- Touch screen: 10 point multi-touch
- Camera: 8 MP HD rear and 5 MP 1080p front
- Battery: 5000 mAh Li-Ion
- Connectivity: 5G
- SIM card: Yes
- Voice calling: Yes
- Warranty: 5 years for the handset, 12 months for in-box accessories
- Brand: Lenovo, Acer, Microsoft, Samsung, LG, Google
What Other Benefits Does the Affordable Connectivity Program Provide?
Not only can you get an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet, the ACP program also offers other great benefits, including:
- A one-time discount of up to $100 on other connected devices, such as laptops and desktops. Only one connected device discount is available per eligible household. To get the discount, the customer must contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
- Discounts on monthly broadband internet services. ACP-eligible customers can get a monthly service discount of up to $30 or $75 on qualifying Tribal lands.
- Free smartphones (in combination with the provider’s Lifeline program).
- Free monthly cell phone services with free talk, text, and data (in combination with the provider’s Lifeline program).
Which Broadband Providers Offer Free Tablets Under the Affordable Connectivity Program?
As you already know, all ACP providers offer discounts on monthly broadband services (see the full list at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers). On the other hand, only some of them also offer one-time discounts on connected devices (see these providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers by noticing the ones that have a ‘tick’ under ‘Offering Connected Devices’). However, not all ACP providers that offer discounts on connected devices offer ACP free tablets – some offer laptops or desktop computers instead.
As the providers’ offers change on a regular basis, make sure to keep an eye on them. Nonetheless, currently, you can get an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet from the following ACP providers:
Q Link Wireless – ACP Tablet Providers
Q Link Wireless is a nationwide Lifeline provider that operates in many U.S. states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Q Link Wireless offers Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablets with the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities for only $10.01. In addition, the program also offers a free monthly cell phone service plan with unlimited talk, text, and data in one of America’s largest networks.
Easy Wireless – ACP Tablet Providers
Easy Wireless is a Lifeline and ACP provider that offers Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablets in the states of Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Missouri.
In addition to free 8-inch tablets (or smartphones), ACP-eligible Easy Wireless providers can receive a free phone service with unlimited talk, text, data, and hotspot. Note: Unlimited data and the tablet are a limited-time offer as part of the Affordable Connectivity Program.
To enroll, visit myeasywireless.com and start your online application process by providing your email, ZIP code, and other required information and documentation.
StandUp Wireless – ACP Tablet Providers
StandUp Wireless is a former EBB and current ACP provider that offers Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablets in many U.S. states, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
In addition to connected devices, StandUp Wireless also offers free wireless service with unlimited talk, text, 10 GB of high-speed data, and unlimited low-speed data.
To sign up, visit standupwireless.com/acp and press ‘Apply Now’. You will be redirected to their online application form, which you can fill out by providing the required information and submitting the necessary documentation.
Which Areas Are Covered by the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is available in all U.S. states and territories, including Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. You can see the full list of all ACP providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers.
However, keep in mind that not all ACP providers offer connected devices, and not all of the ones that do, don’t offer ACP free tablets. Currently, only Q Link Wireless, Easy Wireless, and StandUp Wireless offer ACP free tablets. See in which states these providers offer their services in the previous section.
Can I Get a Free Tablet or Laptop Another Way – Other Than Through the ACP Program?
ACP-eligible people can easily get an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free tablet. However, as the ACP eligibility criteria are quite rigid and you may not qualify, there are some other ways and options to get a free tablet or laptop.
Get a free tablet or laptop from a charity or non-profit organization
The Salvation Army is a non-profit organization that offers basic services for people in need. In addition to offering food, clothes, furniture, and other necessities, they also provide electronic devices, such as tablets and laptops. To get a free device, you must meet their eligibility criteria. Contact them to find out whether or not you qualify. After reviewing your financial situation, they may invite you to complete the procedure to get a free tablet.
Get a free tablet or laptop from a company
There are many companies that offer free tablets or laptops for low-income people, people with disabilities, and other people in need. These companies and programs include:
- Accelerated Schools Program
- Computer Technology Assistance Corps
- Computers for Learning
- Komputers 4 Kids
- Microsoft Registered Refurbished
- On It Foundation
- Technology Assisting People In Need
- World Computer Exchange
To see whether or not you can get a free tablet or laptop from them, simply contact them. You will find all the necessary information on their websites.
Other options to get a free tablet or laptop for people in need
- Visit a public library
- Try at a local church
- Search for free refurbished tablets and laptops
- Visit some of the websites where you can get low-cost items, such as Craigslist, Freecycle, or social media sites
- Enter an online giveaway (make sure to avoid scams)
There are Some More Important Things to Know About ACP Free Tablet
Are EBB and ACP the Same?
The EBB program is ACP’s predecessor. EBB is a now-expired program that offered similar benefits as does the new ACP. It offered discounts on monthly internet services of up to $50 ($75 for eligible families on Tribal lands) and the same one-time discount on connected devices of up to $100. You can read more about the former EBB program at fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.
Can I Switch From EBB to ACP Now, or Do I Have to Wait Until After March 1, 2022?
You can switch from EBB to ACP at any time. You don’t have to wait until March 1, 2022, to do the ACP verification and submission.
Why Is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program Ending?
The EBB was a temporary program that was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As it has proven vital for millions of Americans, the government has decided to prolong it, adjust it, and rename it to ACP.
Is There Anything I Need to Do? Will I Lose My Discount?
If you are enrolled in the EBB, you will continue to receive the EBB benefits and discounts until March 1, 2022. Chances are that your EBB provider now offers ACP discounts. If so, you will receive additional information if you are required to take any steps to confirm your ACP eligibility.
Does My ACP Free Tablet Come With a Warranty?
Yes, most ACP free tablets come with a warranty. The best warranty you can hope for is a 5-year warranty for the handset and 12 months for in-box accessories.
Can I Choose My ACP Provider?
Yes, you can absolutely choose your provider. You can do so by reviewing all the ACP providers in your state of residence at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers and selecting the one that best suits your needs. Or you can apply directly at acpbenefit.org and then contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Can Families Access the ACP?
Yes. Only one ACP benefit is available per eligible household, which means that only one member can get the discounts yet the entire family will benefit.