Affordable Connectivity Plan Update

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As previously discussed on this site (ICORE Client Bulletin dated 1/12/24 and ICORE Blog issue dated 3/8/24), the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Plan (ACP) is ending due to a lack of funding to support the discounts provided to eligible households. The FCC expects that April 2024 will be the last month that providers would receive full reimbursement for the discounts provided and only partial reimbursement will be available for May 2024. Providers have the option to participate in the program for May 2024 and subscribers must opt-in to continue to receive service at a reduced discount after the full ACP benefit ends in April 2024.

On March 19, 2024, the FCC issued a Public Notice reiterating the previously provided information relative to the wind-down as well as additional information regarding the partial benefit reimbursement available for May 2024. To allow providers to plan for their May service offerings and to provide notice to their ACP subscribers regarding their May 2024 service this Public Notice provides an estimated reimbursement range for each benefit type as follows:

* Non-Tribal Service Benefit – $7 – $16 (full ACP reimbursement was up to $30)

* Tribal Service Benefit – $18 – $39 (full reimbursement was up to $75)

* ACP Device Benefit – $24 – $53 (full reimbursement was up to $100)

The FCC expects that final maximum reimbursement amounts will be announced in April 2024.

In addition to the information above the Public Notice reminds providers that they are not required to provide any ACP discounts after April 2024. Providing a partial benefit for May 2024 is optional. Providers may, but are not required to, offer a greater discount than the estimated reimbursement amounts listed above. Providers, however, are prohibited from billing ACP subscribers more than what they would have paid for their service had the full ACP discount been applied to the bill unless the subscriber has opted in to pay a higher amount. Finally, providers are directed to notify USAC of their intent to participate for the May 2024 service month by filling out a survey that USAC will distribute to providers. The survey will be distributed within a week of the 3/19/24 Public Notice and providers will have two weeks to respond.

The wind-down of the ACP has garnered a great deal of interest in the U.S. Congress. On 3/15/24, 33 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging the passage of legislation to provide additional funding for the ACP. Additionally, on 3/20/24, a bipartisan group of 158 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a similar letter to Congressional leaders seeking additional funding for the ACP. As always, we will continue to monitor this issue and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

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