Maximum ACP reimbursement for May down to $14 – FCC

The FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will see its max reimbursements slashed in May, its last month of availability – from $30 to $14 for non-tribal households, and from $75 to $35 for households on tribal land.

Nicole Ferraro, Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast

April 10, 2024

3 Min Read
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With the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) bleeding out its last remaining dollars, the FCC confirmed in a notice this week that the program will only be able to pay out partial reimbursement for participating providers in the program in May.

Specifically, for non-tribal households enrolled in the ACP, the maximum available funding per household in May will drop to $14 from $30. For tribal households, it drops from $75 to a maximum of $35. And the program's one-time device discount of $100 per device will fall to $47, according to the notice. As of February 8, the date of the ACP's enrollment freeze, there were 23.2 million households enrolled in the program: 22.9 million non-tribal households, and 329,459 households on tribal land.

After May, without last-minute action to preserve the program from Congress or the FCC, the ACP will end for its 23 million currently enrolled households.

"These maximum benefit amounts for May were calculated by comparing the estimated funding needs for May to the total non-obligated funds available in April 2024 ... as well as the total number of devices claimed since the enrollment freeze," states the notice from the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau. 

Back in March, the agency estimated that May's partial payout for non-tribal households would be no more than $16, but these latest figures reduce that maximum further. "[T]hese amounts are not expected to change," adds this week's notice.

Related:How the FCC could save the Affordable Connectivity Program

'Keep consumers connected'

The public notice also suggests that providers can take their own steps to offer consumer discounts in May that come closer to the actual ACP benefit.

"We encourage providers to take efforts to keep consumers connected at this crucial time," states the notice, adding that "providers may, but are not required to, offer a discount larger than the maximum May partial reimbursement amount announced by the Bureau to help defray the change in benefit."

Additionally, it recommends: "Providers can also help consumers stay connected and mitigate their financial burden by offering to move consumers to low-cost internet service plans that the providers already offer or that they newly adopt as an offering to low-income consumers."

Last week, AT&T announced it would continue to offer its existing "Access from AT&T" discount program (for speeds up to 100 Mbit/s) for $30/month after the ACP ends. However, that $30 has thus far been covered by the ACP, so it's unclear if it will remain affordable to AT&T's existing ACP customers. Comcast is similarly encouraging customers to transfer their ACP benefit to one of the company's Internet Essentials plans (which offer up to 50 Mbit/s for $9.25/month; or up to 100 Mbit/s for $29.95).

The FCC notice goes on to remind providers that they are "prohibited from billing ACP households for more than what the household would pay had the full ACP benefit been applied to the bill if the household has not affirmatively opted in to paying a higher amount."

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About the Author(s)

Nicole Ferraro

Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast, Light Reading

Nicole covers broadband, policy and the digital divide. She hosts The Divide on the Light Reading Podcast and tracks broadband builds in The Buildout column. Some* call her the Broadband Broad (*nobody).

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