Affordable Connectivity Program Transition

Support for NDIA Affiliates Serving ACP Participants

What Is the Future of ACP?

Things are uncertain and constantly changing.
The NDIA Team will update this page regularly, so please check back.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federally funded program that has offered a monthly benefit to eligible households. Without urgent congressional funding, ACP will run out of funds, most likely at the end of April 2024.

The FCC’s ACP Wind-Down guidance includes critical information and estimated dates. In addition, NDIA is providing guidance, based on insights from our community of affiliates, for organizations navigating this difficult period.

Infographic timeline of ACP Wind-Down updated 2.1.24

Wind-Down Resources from the FCC

graphic of clipboard with checkmarks

The FCC provides some materials on the ACP Wind-Down:

Q. When is the last day to apply to ACP?

A. Applications and enrollments will not be processed after February 7, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. ET. FCC freezes the ACP enrollment on February 8, 2024. This means no applications for ACP will be approved after February 7, and no one approved for ACP can apply their benefit to an internet subscription after February 7.

Q. When will the ACP run out of funds?

A. TBD, but funds will likely run out at the end of April 2024. The FCC will announce the official end date 60 days prior to the final day the program will end. We estimate this announcement will be in late February. All households enrolled in the program will receive the benefit through the end of the program or as long as they remain enrolled.

Q. How will households participating in the ACP be notified of plan changes?

A. Providers are required to notify customers three times in writing:

  • Notice 1: January 25, 2024 (2 weeks from order publication date)
    • Notice 1 will include information on the possibility of ACP’s end and the potential impact on the household’s future bills.
  • Notice 2: 15 days after the FCC announces the last fully funded month of ACP (estimated to be mid-March)
  • Notice 3: Issued during the customer’s last bill or last billing cycle with ACP benefit
    • Notices 2 and 3 will include:
      • ACP is ending and the date the last bill ACP will be applied
      • The household’s bill amount without ACP discount OR statement that the customer will be subjected to undiscounted rates per terms and conditions
      • Information about the household’s to change their service and/or to opt out of continuing their service at the end of the ACP
  • The FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will raise awareness of the ACP Wind-Down, and USAC will directly notify ACP Households of the program’s end multiple times.

How Should Affiliates Help ACP Participants?

Many NDIA Affiliates are determining whether to continue enrolling participants in the ACP program through February 8. There isn’t a simple answer. You should use your best judgment given your community’s needs and be honest with people. Signing up for ACP can be time-consuming, and it can be frustrating to learn that the program will likely end in spring 2024. 

At the same time, the program provides a needed service to community members, and it may help people to get online and stay online by transitioning to a new low-cost plan after the program ends.

Practitioners should make an effort to provide transparent and clear information on the program’s uncertain future. This will help your organization remain trusted with your community members. Digital Navigators are essential in supporting ACP enrollees during this transition period. While we can’t change the ultimate outcomes of this problem, community providers can provide empathy, honest information, and trusted ongoing resources.

Watch the video: NDIA Policy Director Amy Huffman breaks down recent information from the FCC, NDIA’s guidance, and what you can expect going forward.  

View the slides from this presentation or share information with partners. 

Talking points for explaining the ACP transition to your community

  1. ACP will likely end in April 2024.
  2. Congress could pass legislation to continue the program, but with little time left, this doesn’t seem likely. 
  3. We think April will be the last month for ACP, and we should know for sure in February.
  4. Your internet service provider (ISP) should contact you in March to tell you exactly what will happen with your internet plan if you don’t make any changes. 
  5. You can decide if you want to continue your internet plan at full cost (without the ACP discount), switch to a different plan, or cancel your internet service.
  6. You should contact your ISP to let them know your decision and inquire about their low-cost plans.
  7. Without ACP, there may be other ways to lower your internet bill, like moving to an ISP’s low-cost plan for qualified customers. 
  8. Contact your ISP for questions regarding the future of your plan.

Digital Navigators: Essential Aid for Communities Transitioning off ACP

Digital navigators will provide trustworthy information during the ACP transition and beyond.

Between the enrollment freeze starting February 8 and the date ACP ends, ACP recipients will receive information about the end of the program that may be unclear, confusing, or inaccessible. Digital navigators and other digital inclusion practitioners who provide one-on-one assistance to community members will be key in providing clear and neutral information from a trusted source.

Digital navigators can help prevent bill shock during the ACP transition. 

ISPs are required to notify their customers about their upcoming bill increase or service termination. Digital navigators can help community members understand these notices and the potential costs of their future bills.

Digital navigators will help community members take control of what will happen to their internet bill and service at the end of ACP.

They help community members understand what is happening with ACP and other options for continuing, canceling, or changing their internet subscription to fit their needs and their ability to pay for internet following the end of ACP. In contrast to ISPs, they have nothing to gain or lose from the community member’s choice. Because they are digital inclusion experts, they will be equipt with information about low-cost internet options that might help community members keep connectivity without the ACP discount. 

Does Your Organization Need an ACP Transition Plan?

An ACP Transition Plan is a formal or informal document that outlines processes and procedures for supporting households impacted by the changes or end of the ACP program. 

Does my organization need an ACP transition plan?

Organizations that have referred or supported households in signing up for the ACP must plan for a possible transition from the ACP. These households may need support transitioning from the ACP benefit to a new internet plan. We need to prepare for changes that may happen quickly.

What does an ACP Transition Plan include?

The plan should include organizational and staff actions to support these households. It can consist of crucial dates for changes to the program as well as resources for ACP participants. The plan may include shared talking points for staff on the front lines, information on low-cost internet plans available in your area, maps for free wifi in your city, and information on hotspot lending programs where available. 

Do I need a timeline?

We recommend you map your planned actions on a calendar, ensuring you have time and space to communicate with participating households and align with the wind-down timeline. As we learn more, your timeline will necessarily need to adjust to the confirmed dates.

Strategies to Use in Your ACP Transition Plan

Offer Client Support

Reach out to all clients your organization has assisted in ACP enrollment to offer support during the transition.

Assist in Contacting ISPs

Assume all ACP recipients need to contact their ISP to confirm if they want their internet subscription to continue or stop when ACP runs out.

Enroll Before the Deadline

Prioritize enrollment efforts for ACP applications that in progress until February 7. Confirm with the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) and ISP that ACP benefits have been applied.

Mobilize Digital Navigators

Redirect outreach efforts to communicate that your organization/digital navigators will continue to inform and help connect individuals to low-cost internet after ACP ends.

Learn How Our Community is Communicating About the Wind Down

Click the arrows to explore flyers that our affiliates are distributing to inform and support their communities.

Finding Low-Cost Internet Plans After ACP

We don’t know if the ACP will continue, if a new program will replace ACP, if ACP will continue after a gap in service. No matter what happens, NDIA encourages ISPs to make low-cost internet plans available. While we continue to advocate for other federal solutions, NDIA’s Free & Low-Cost Internet Plans webpage will be a useful tool for digital navigators and others working with the community to provide up-to-date information for low-cost plans in your area.

It’s Not Too Late.

Take Action Today and Ask Congress to Save ACP

Discover the value of ACP, use storytelling for advocacy, get tools, and take action to advocate for ACP. Check out the resources on NDIA’s ACP Advocacy page.