Consumers looking for information on the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program should visit fcc.gov/acp.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides eligible households with a discount on broadband service and connected devices.

On November 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act) became law. The Infrastructure Act provides $14.2 billion to modify and extend the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) to a longer-term broadband affordability program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Infrastructure Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) to undertake a proceeding to adopt final rules for the ACP. On November 18, 2021, the Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the rules and administration of the ACP.

The Infrastructure Act also directs the Commission to effectuate for the ACP specified changes, such as to program eligibility criteria and the program benefit amount, by the effective date, which the Bureau determined to be December 31, 2021.

The Infrastructure Act also provides for a 60-day transition period from the EBB Program to the ACP for households fully enrolled in the EBB Program as of December 31, 2021. Accordingly, the 60-day transition period for the ACP started on December 31, 2021 and ended on March 1, 2022. The ACP also began to accept enrollments on December 31, 2021.

Releases

Orders, Public Notices, and Other Items

April 28, 2022 - Public Notice
WCB Seeks Comment on AT&T's Petition for Expedited Waiver of ACP Rules

April 15, 2022 - Order
WCB Addresses Service Providers' Petitions for Waiver of ACP Rules

April 1, 2022 - Public Notice
WCB Seeks Comment on CCA Petition for Waiver of ACP Rules

March 28, 2022 - Public Notice
WCB Seeks Comment on AT&T's Petition for Waiver of ACP Rules

March 23, 2022 - Public Notice
WCB Seeks Comment on USTelecom and Verizon's Petitions for Waiver

March 11, 2022 - Public Notice
WCB Implements ACP, Lifeline Integrity Measures to Protect Consumers

March 11, 2022 - Advisory
Inspector General Advisory on Providers Deceiving Lifeline Consumers

March 11, 2022 - News Release
Inspector General Warns of Providers Deceiving Lifeline Consumers

March 3, 2022 - News Release
FCC Virtual Event Tour for Affordable Connectivity Program Enrollment

February 14, 2022 - Public Notice
Effective Dates for ACP Rules, Comment Deadlines for FNPRM Announced

February 14, 2022 - News Release
Over 10 Million Households Enrolled in Affordable Connectivity Program

January 21, 2022 - Report & Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Releases Rules To Implement Affordable Connectivity Program

January 14, 2022 - News Release
FCC Adopts Rules To Implement Affordable Connectivity Program

January 7, 2022 - Statement
Chair Rosenworcel Debuts Affordable Connectivity Program Draft Rules

January 7, 2022 - Public Draft
Public Draft Rules for the Affordable Connectivity Program

January 6, 2022 - Public Notice
FCC Modifies Ex Parte Rules in Affordable Connectivity Fund Proceeding

December 31, 2021 - News Release
FCC Launches Affordable Connectivity Program

December 30, 2021 - Order
FCC Provides Additional Guidance on Affordable Connectivity Program

December 8, 2021 - Order
FCC Issues Further Guidance for Affordable Connectivity Program

November 25, 2021 - Order
WCB Issues Guidance for Transition to Affordable Connectivity Program

November 11, 2021 - Public Notice
FCC Seeks Comment on the New Affordable Connectivity Program

Provider FCC Approvals

Provider FCC Approvals

Broadband providers wishing to participate in the ACP should review all applicable program requirements and procedures in the Commission’s Order (FCC 22-2) and any subsequent guidance for compliance with the ACP’s requirements. The Bureau provided interim guidance (DA 21-1524) that to enable the orderly transition of the EBB Program to the Affordable Connectivity Program, the Bureau and USAC stopped accepting EBB Program provider participation applications and election notices on December 20, 2021. Both the Bureau and USAC began accepting new Affordable Connectivity Program provider applications and election notices on December 27, 2021 for any new provider that did not participate in the EBB Program or existing participating provider seeking to expand to new jurisdictions for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) in the states or territories where the ETC is designated can elect to participate in the ACP by filing the appropriate information with USAC and do not need to seek approval from the Bureau. All other broadband providers need to seek approval from the Bureau to participate in the ACP.

Broadband Provider Eligibility to Participate in the ACP

To participate in the ACP, a broadband provider must be designated as an ETC or seek approval from the Bureau. All broadband providers must file elections to USAC to participate in the ACP. A broadband provider must have provided broadband Internet access service as defined by Section 8.1 of the Commission’s rules to end-users prior to submitting the application. Any broadband provider wishing to participate in the ACP must reference an FCC Form 477 filing demonstrating it provided broadband service or otherwise demonstrate it provided broadband service through certification and documentation submitted to USAC or the Bureau. A broadband provider must provide broadband service to end-users, meaning the provider of retail broadband Internet access service must maintain a direct relationship with the customer, must be responsible for dealing with customer complaints, must handle customer billing, and must provide quality of service guarantees to the end-user. A broadband provider can be an ETC or a non-ETC, and could include cable providers, wireless Internet service providers, or non-traditional broadband providers like community-owned networks, electric cooperatives, or municipal governments.

Broadband providers wishing to participate in the ACP should review the information on this page, and the associated program requirements and procedures set forth in the “Releases” section to determine how to participate in the ACP.

Non-ETC Provider Application and Approval Process

A broadband provider that is not an ETC in the state or territory where it would like to participate in the ACP must seek approval from the Bureau.

  1. “automatic applications” – where the non-ETC provider demonstrates it has an established program as of April 1, 2020, that is widely available and offers Internet service offerings to eligible households and maintains verification processes that are sufficient to avoid fraud, waste, and abuse; or,
  2. “expedited applications” – where the non-ETC provider without an established program demonstrates it provided qualifying broadband service to eligible households.

Automatic Application and Approval Process

Any non-ETC broadband provider seeking to qualify for such automatic approval must file an application describing:

  1. the jurisdiction in which it plans to participate;
  2. the service areas in which the provider has the authority, if needed, to operate in each state, but has not been designated an eligible telecommunications carrier; and,
  3. a description, supported by documentation, of the established program with which the provider seeks to qualify for automatic admission to the EBB Program.
    1. Established Program as of April 1, 2020. The principal consideration in determining an “established program” for automatic approval is whether eligible subscribers receive a financial benefit through reduced rates. A provider must also show its program is “widely established” by demonstrating the program is offered to subscribers in a substantial portion of the provider’s service area in the jurisdiction for which it is seeking approval. The established program must have been available by April 1, 2020 to subscribers meeting at least one of the criteria in statute’s definition of an eligible household. Specifically, providers offering broadband subscribers discounted rates based on criteria such as low-income, loss of income, participation in certain federal, state, or local assistance programs, or other means-tested eligibility criteria qualify for this automatic approval process.
    2. Required Verification Processes. Broadband providers seeking automatic approval to participate in the ACP with established programs must demonstrate verification processes used for the established program. The verification process must be sufficient to avoid fraud, waste, and abuse. Providers that have been offering a broadband program for eligible households should demonstrate how they have generally foregone collecting revenue they might otherwise have assessed from participating subscribers. The providers should describe how they prevent enrollments in their programs by ineligible households. Providers that receive automatic approval to participate in the ACP will use the Lifeline National Verifier and National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to verify household eligibility or their own alternative household eligibility verification processes, or the combination of both before seeking reimbursement. Even if a provider has its own existing broadband program for determining eligible households, it may decide to use the National Verifier for some or all applications to the ACP, although it is not required to do so. Providers wishing to use an alternative household eligibility verification process in addition to the National Verifier must seek separate approval for the alternative verification process.

Providers that file applications certifying to and making necessary demonstrations for the criteria outlined above will receive approval automatically upon filing once the Bureau confirms all required information was submitted.

Expedited Application and Approval Process

Any non-ETC broadband provider seeking to qualify for expedited approval must file an application describing:

  1. A list of states or territories where the provider will offer Affordable Connectivity Program services. A provider seeking approval must list each jurisdiction in which it seeks to be approved to offer ACP-supported services. While the provider need only identify the state or territory where it plans to offer qualifying services for purposes of its submission to the Bureau, providers should be prepared to identify to USAC in their election the postal ZIP code(s) or Census Block(s) where Program service will be offered to obtain Service Provider Identification Number(s) (SPINs) or Study Area Codes (SACs), as necessary.
  2. A statement identifying the jurisdiction in which the provider requires FCC approval and jurisdictions in which the provider is an existing ETC. A provider that is designated as an ETC in some states or territories must submit an application and obtain Bureau approval to participate in the Program in states or territories where the provider is not designated as an ETC. A provider, even if already designated as an ETC in some states or territories, must seek Bureau approval to offer ACP services in states or territories in which the provider is not designated as an ETC. Providers without ETC designations must certify that they are authorized to provide broadband services.
  3. Certification of the provider’s plan to combat waste, fraud, and abuse. Participating provider applications must include a certification that the provider understands and complies with all statutory and regulatory obligations as a condition of offering ACP-supported services. Specifically, a provider must certify that it will:
    1. confirm a household’s eligibility for the Program through either the National Verifier or a Commission-approved eligibility verification process prior to seeking reimbursement for the respective subscriber;
    2. follow all enrollment requirements and obtain all certifications as required by the Program, including providing eligible households with information describing the Program’s eligibility requirements, one-per-household rule, and enrollment procedures;
    3. interact with the necessary USAC systems, including the National Verifier, NLAD, and RAD, before submitting claims for reimbursement, including performing the necessary checks to ensure the household is not receiving duplicative benefits within the Program;
    4. de-enroll from the Program any household it has a reasonable basis to believe is no longer eligible to receive the benefit consistent with Program requirements;
    5. comply with the Program’s document retention requirements and agree to make such documentation available to the Commission or USAC, upon request or any entities (for example, auditors) operating on their behalf; and
    6. agree to the Commission’s enforcement and forfeiture authority.

Provider applications for review must establish a sufficient showing that the provider has met the criteria for expedited review and approval, as outlined above. The Bureau will administer this expedited application review process consistent with the Order. Once approved by the Bureau, providers will have to file an election to participate in the EBB Program with USAC.

Bureau Approval of Alternative Household Eligibility Verification Processes

Providers that would like to verify household eligibility in the ACP through their own alternative eligibility verification process in addition to or instead of using the Lifeline National Verifier must submit documentation to the Bureau demonstrating how the process safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse. The use of an alternative eligibility verification process is limited to providers that maintain an existing verification process used for their own self-subsidized low-income program or other purpose unrelated to the EBB Program, Affordable Connectivity Program, or similar federal assistance programs. Accordingly, we expect that only providers that maintain an existing household eligibility verification process for their own purposes would seek approval of an alternative verification process. The provider must describe how its alternative process collects the household applicant’s: (1) full name, (2) phone number, (3) date of birth, (4) e-mail address, (5) home and mailing addresses, (6) name and date of birth of the benefit qualifying person if different than applicant, (7) basis for inclusion in program (e.g., SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, school lunch, Pell Grant, income, provider’s existing program, etc.) and documentation supporting verification of eligibility, and (8) certifications from the household that the information included in the application is true. The provider must describe the processes it (or a third-party) uses to verify the requested information above, including the applicant’s identity and eligibility, and must explain why the provider’s alternative process will be sufficient to avoid waste, fraud, and abuse. The provider must also explain how it trains its employees and agents to prevent ineligible enrollments, including enrollments based upon fabricated documents. If the alternative verification process fails to include any of the above information, the provider should explain why it thinks such information is not necessary to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. Finally, a provider must describe why its established program requires approval of an alternative verification process and it is required to explain why it proposes to use an alternative verification process instead of the National Verifier eligibility determinations.

Bureau Approval Application Resources

Broadband providers requiring Bureau approval to participate in the ACP or use an alternative household eligibility verification process must submit an application through the online application portal.

Before You Apply

In advance of filing an application, eligible broadband providers should:

  1. Have an FCC Registration Number (FRN) for the broadband provider and username and password in the Commission Registration System (CORES). An FRN is a 10-digit number that is assigned to a business or individual registering with the FCC and is used to identify the registrant’s business dealings with the FCC. Learn more about CORES.
  2. Register with the federal System for Award Management (SAM). See the User Guides for SAM registration support. The provider should ensure the Tax Identification Number (TIN) associated with the providers FRN, SAM, and DUNS number matches.

Tips for Completing the Application

  1. Have your FCC username and password from CORES on hand. You will need these to log in.
  2. Fully and accurately complete all fields marked with an asterisk (*). These must be answered for your application to be complete.
  3. Have the necessary supporting documentation prepared for the application you are submitting. Specific documentation submissions will be prompted, and this includes established programs, alternative eligibility verification processes, ETC designations, authorities to operate. Providers should upload a narrative document as an attachment to the application (by clicking the paperclip icon at the bottom of the page) describing how the provider meets the ACP requirements.

Provider USAC Elections

USAC Election Process for All ACP Participating Providers

The Commission established an expedited process where existing ETCs and other approved providers could “elect” to participate in the ACP and gain access to the necessary USAC databases being used to administer the EBB Program. The Bureau provided interim guidance (DA 21-1524) that to enable the orderly transition of the EBB Program to the Affordable Connectivity Program, the Bureau and USAC stopped accepting EBB Program provider participation applications and election notices on December 20, 2021. Both the Bureau and USAC began accepting new Affordable Connectivity Program provider applications and election notices on December 27, 2021 for any new provider that did not participate in the EBB Program or existing participating provider seeking to expand to new jurisdictions for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Existing ETCs in the jurisdiction can file elections without seeking Bureau approval to participate in the ACP. Non-ETCs will need to first apply and then obtain Bureau approval prior to filing their election with USAC. Elections will be expeditiously reviewed on a rolling basis.

The elections will collect information that includes: (1) the states in which the provider plans to participate in the ACP; (2) a statement that, in each such state, the provider was a “broadband provider”; (3) a list of states where the provider is an existing ETC, if any; (4) a list of states where the provider received FCC approval, whether automatic or expedited, to participate, if any; (5) whether the provider intends to distribute connected devices under the ACP and supporting documentation; and, (8) any other administrative information necessary for USAC to establish participating providers in the ACP.

More information regarding the election process is available on the USAC webpage at: https://www.usac.org/about/affordable-connectivity-program/participate-in-acp/.

For Consumers

Consumer Outreach & Education

Consumers looking for more information on FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program should visit fcc.gov/acp.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The Bureau encourages all potential broadband provider applicants review all applicable program requirements and procedures as set forth in the Commission’s Order (FCC 22-2) and any subsequent guidance for compliance with the ACP’s requirements. The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended only provide staff responses to common questions and do not supersede the Commission’s decisions in the controlling order. To fulfill its obligation of evaluating provider approval applications, the Bureau reserves its authority to review and evaluate for completeness and accuracy the specific application information submitted as approval process.

Broadband Provider Application Process

  1. What do I need in order to apply?
    • Identifying information for the applying broadband provider including Legal Entity Name, FRN, Holding Company, DUNS Number, Address and jurisdictions it is seeking approval
    • Contact information including contact name, phone number and email
    • A narrative document submitted as an attachment describing how the provider meets the requirements to participate in the ACP
    • Authorizations to operate in requested jurisdictions, including any ETC designations
    • If necessary, a narrative document submitted as an attachment describing any alternative household eligibility process the provider is seeking approval meets the requirements for use in the ACP
  2. What information should be contained in the narrative documents submitted with the application?

    All broadband providers seeking approval should review the Commission’s Order to ensure the application contains all necessary information for approval. In addition to the specific information collected on the application form, the provider should submit a narrative description of how it meets the requirements to participate in the ACP. This includes how the provider offered broadband service to end-users prior to submitting the application in the jurisdictions they are seeking approval and the specific requirements for either automatic approval or expediated approval.

    For automatic approval, the provider should describe: (1) the jurisdiction in which it plans to participate, (2) the service areas in which the provider has the authority, if needed, to operate in each state, but has not been designated an eligible telecommunications carrier, and (3) a description, supported by documentation, of the established program with which the provider seeks to qualify for automatic admission to the ACP.

    For expedited approval, the provider should describe: (1) the states or territories in which it plans to participate, (2) the service areas in which the provider has the authority, if needed, to operate in each state but has not been designated an eligible telecommunications carrier, and (3) the certifications and documentation of the provider’s plan to combat waste, fraud, and abuse.

    For approval of an alternative household eligibility verification process, the provider should describe: (1) its alternative process collects the household applicant’s identifying information and required certifications; (2) the processes it (or a third-party) uses to verify the requested household information, including the applicant’s identity and eligibility; (3) an explanation of why the provider’s alternative process will be sufficient to avoid waste, fraud, and abuse; (4) an explanation of how it trains its employees and agents to prevent ineligible enrollments, including enrollments based on fabricated documents; (5) an explanation why does its process is sufficient to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse and why any of the above information is not collected; and, (6) describe why its established program requires approval of an alternative verification process and it is required to explain why it proposes to use an alternative verification process instead of the National Verifier eligibility determinations.

    Additional explanations of these requirements are available in the “Provider FCC Approvals Tab” of this webpage.

  3. I need to create a CORES account and FCC Registration Number (FRN) before I begin an application. How do I do this?

    You must register for an FRN in the Commission’s Registration System (CORES). To register with CORES, go to: https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/userLogin.do. First, set up an account in CORES by creating a username and password. You will then receive an automated email to verify your account’s email address and activate your account. Once your account is activated, log in to CORES, and select “Register New FRN” if you do not have an FRN. After you provide the required information and submit, CORES will generate a new FRN for you.

    For more information about or support with CORES and FRNs, see CORES Help at https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do?faq=true.

  4. Where can a broadband provider find the application to apply for Bureau approval to participate or approval of an alternative eligibility process?

    The Bureau provided interim guidance that to enable the orderly transition of the EBB Program to the Affordable Connectivity Program, the Bureau and USAC will stop accepting EBB Program provider participation applications and election notices on December 20, 2021. Both the Bureau and USAC will begin accepting new Affordable Connectivity Program provider applications and election notices on December 27, 2021 for any new provider that did not participate in the EBB Program or existing participating provider seeking to expand to new jurisdictions for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The online application is available at the ServiceNow portal.

  5. How do I confirm that my application was received and is being reviewed?

    Once you successfully submit your application through the application portal, you will receive an automated response that the application has been submitted to the contact email. If you did not receive the email please check you junk/spam folder and white list the email sender to ensure receipt of future communications. You can check the status of your application in the portal. If you successfully submitted your application, you will see applications that are submitted, require additional information, or have been closed and received a determination.

    FCC staff will contact you if additional action or information is needed to process your application.

  6. Can I submit more than one provider for approval on the same application?

    No, you can only submit one provider for approval per application. You can seek approval to participate and approval of alternative eligibility verification processes on the same application. If you need to seek approval to participate for multiple providers, you must submit multiple applications.

  7. Do providers that have received ETC designations for some portions of its service area within a state or territory, but not the entire state or territory, need FCC approval prior to filing elections with USAC to participate in EBB Program in the portions of its service area in that state or territory where it has not been designated an ETC?

    No, providers that are an ETC in the state or territory only need to file elections with USAC to participate throughout that entire state or territory. If a provider wishes to participate in other states where they are not an ETC, they need to seek Bureau approval for the other states.

 

Bureau/Office: 

Updated: 
Wednesday, May 4, 2022