What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?
Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP is a government assistance program by the FCC designed to help ensure that households in need can afford the internet they need for work, education, healthcare, and much more. It is a brand new program that was launched on December 31, 2021, and unlike ACP’s predecessor (EBB), ACP is a long-term benefit.
The Affordable Benefit provides two types of discounts – monthly service discounts and one-time connected device discounts. ACP-eligible households can get a monthly internet service discount of up to $30 a month ($75 for eligible households on Tribal lands). Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer from a participating provider if they pay a co-pay of more than $10 and less than $50.
Note that the Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Some ACP providers only offer service discounts, however, some of them offer both service and device discounts. You can see a list of all ACP providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers. Simply click on your state of residence and see which wireless providers participate in the ACP program and offer services in your area. To see which ones offer device discounts, note which ones have a ‘tick’ under ‘Offering Connected Devices’.
To enroll in the ACP program, you must be ACP-eligible. See the ACP eligibility criteria, which are determined by the FCC and thus universal for all ACP providers in the section ‘How Do I Join an ACP Program if Straight Talk Does Not Offer ACP?’. In that chapter, you will also find out how to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
What is the Difference Between EBB and ACP?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit or EBB was an FCC program created to help households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was established in response to the pandemic and it was meant to be temporary. As the program has proven to be vital for millions of Americans, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to modify and extend the program. The old EBB program has ended on December 31, 2021, and on the same day, the new, modified, and long-term ACP program was launched. Households enrolled in the EBB as of December 31, 2021, will continue to receive their current monthly benefit during a 60-day transition period until March 1, 2022.
EBB and ACP offer similar benefits and eligibility criteria. Both programs aim to help ensure that households in need can afford internet services. In addition, both programs offer two types of discounts – monthly service discounts and one-time connected device discounts. However, there are some differences and changes. For example:
- While the monthly benefit for households on qualifying Tribal lands has remained the same (up to $75 a month), the maximum monthly benefit for households not located on Tribal lands changed from $50 a month (EBB) to $30 a month. The one-time discount on connected devices remains the same for EBB and ACP (up to $100 and requires the customer to pay a co-pay of more than $10 and less than $50).
- EBB and ACP eligibility criteria are similar, however, the ACP program added new criteria. From now on, people who receive WIC benefits or have an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines can also enroll.
- Households that qualified for the EBB due to a substantial loss of income as a result of a job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, or by meeting the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s COVID-19 program, will need to requalify for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Does Straight Talk Offer Affordable Connectivity Program?
So, now that we found out what is ACP and established the difference between ACP and EBB, let’s move on to the main question – does Straight Talk offer Affordable Connectivity Program?
Straight Talk is a popular American no-contract phone plan service owned by TracFone Wireless. Straight Talk used to participate in the now-expired EBB program. Straight talk EBB-eligible customers were able to qualify for:
- Free unlimited data
- Free unlimited talk and text
- Free 10 GB of hotspot data
Eligible customers could receive all of that while keeping their device and number. Read more about Straight Talk EBB at straighttalk.com/ebb.
However, on December 31, 2021, the old EBB program has expired and it was replaced by the new, permanent ACP program. Just like Straight Talk EBB, the ACP program is also meant to ensure households in need get internet access that will connect them to jobs, virtual education, healthcare, and more.
Note: Straight Talk hasn’t updated its EBB page yet, therefore, they haven’t officially confirmed their participation in the ACP program yet. Nevertheless, most former EBB providers now offer ACP benefits, which are very similar. As such, it is safe to assume that Straight Talk will not be any exception. For details, contact Straight Talk’s customer support service.
How Do I Join an ACP Program if Straight Talk Does Not Offer ACP?
As mentioned above, Straight Talk will probably join most other former EBB providers in participating in the new ACP program. However, just in case, let’s review how to join an ACP program either with Straight Talk or with another ACP provider.
How to Qualify for Another ACP Providers?
To qualify for an ACP program, you must be ACP-eligible. Regardless of whether you wish to enroll in the ACP program from Straight Talk or from another ACP provider, the eligibility criteria are the same, as they are determined by the FCC.
A household is ACP-eligible if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Participates in certain assistance programs, such as:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Fund
- Participates in Tribal specific programs, 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 qualify for an ACP program, you must also be a resident of one of the states where the provider offers its services.
How to Apply?
The simplest way to apply for the ACP program from any provider is to follow these simple steps:
- Step 1: Visit acpbenefit.org and submit an online application or print out a mail-in application. To submit an application, you will be required to provide certain information and attach some documents that may verify your identity or prove your eligibility.
- Step 2: Contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Note: Some providers may have an alternative application form that they may ask you to complete.
Alternatively, you can first decide on an ACP provider and then apply for their services. In this case, follow the steps below:
- Step 1: Confirm your ACP eligibility (see the eligibility criteria above).
- Step 2: Apply for the ACP program. Visit your preferred provider’s website and submit your application. To submit your application at Straight Talk, visit straighttalk.com/ebb and press ‘Apply Now’. Note: As Straight Talk’s EBB program has expired and they haven’t officially confirmed their ACP participation or updated their website, this link may not work.
- Step 3: Once you provide the necessary information, attach the required documentation, and submit your application, enjoy your ACP service. Straight Talk will try to send you a notification about your approval status within 48 hours.
Which Other Companies Offer ACP Facility?
You can see a list of all ACP providers at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers. You can search for the providers by state. To do so, simply click on your state of residence and see which wireless providers offer ACP services and benefits in your area. To see which providers offer device discounts, note which ones have a ‘tick’ under ‘Offering Connected Devices’.For free tablets read one of our past articles Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Free Tablet
Some of the best ACP providers that offer their reliable services and generous ACP discounts in many U.S. states include:
- Access Wireless
- Assist Wireless (offers connected devices)
- Assurance Wireless (offers connected devices)
- Boost Mobile (offers connected devices)
- Cintex Wireless (offers connected devices)
- enTouch Wireless (offers connected devices)
- Easy Wireless (offers connected devices)
- Q Link Wireless (offers connected devices)
- StandUp Wireless (offers connected devices)
- TracFone Wireless (offers connected devices)
- TruConnect Mobile (offers connected devices)