In 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) under a finite $14.2 billion Congressional appropriation that is now forecast to be exhausted by April 2024. The FCC has now announced procedures and required customer notifications for a wind down of the ACP should Congress not appropriate additional funding.
The FCC's Wireline Bureau will announce the upcoming end of the ACP approximately 60 days prior to the end of the last fully funded month of the program. Unless Congress acts soon, this announcement is likely to be issued at the end of February (subject to potential adjustment based on various factors) anticipating the depletion of the funding in April. The FCC adopted the following procedures for the wind-down of the ACP if Congress does not provide additional funding before the current funding runs out.
As described below, the FCC directed ACP providers to issue notices within a precise timeline, but has not prescribed specific language or formats for such notices.
Providers must send three notices to their ACP subscribers as follows:
- First Notice by January 25, 2024 to advise households about the possibility of ACP termination and the potential impact on their broadband service and bills.
- Second Notice no later than 15 days after the Bureau announces the last fully funded month of the ACP.
- Third Notice with the last bill in which the full ACP benefit is applied.
The second and third notices must indicate that the ACP is ending and must include the following information:
- The date of the last bill on which the full ACP benefit will be applied;
- The amount that the household will be charged for service once the full ACP benefit is no longer available and/or that the household will be subject to the provider's undiscounted rates and general terms and conditions after the end of the ACP; and
- A reminder that the subscriber may still change or terminate their service once the ACP ends.
No specific content or format is required for the notices, but they should be sent consistent with any subscriber expressed preferences and language for receiving communications (and accessible to persons with disabilities).
New Subscriber Enrollment Freeze
- New ACP enrollments are not permitted after February 7, 2024 at 11:59 pm EST.
- Transfer-in transactions are permitted, but not required after February 7. Transfer limits still apply (once per service month, with limited exceptions).
- Consumers de-enrolled after February 7 will not be able to re-enroll in the ACP.
- After February 7, providers should stop publicizing the availability of the ACP.
- Beginning February 1, 2024, providers must submit all claims for reimbursement, including upward revisions, by the first business day of the second month after the snapshot date showing the households eligible to be claimed for the prior data month.
- All claims for the February 1 snapshot and all upward revisions for preceding months must be submitted by April 1.
- Providers may submit downward revisions at any time.
- If reimbursement claims in the final month of the ACP exceed the amount of remaining funds, reimbursements will be paid out to providers on a reduced, pro-rata basis.
- Providers may forego providing ACP service for discounts passed through to ACP households after the last fully funded month to avoid the risk of partial reimbursement.
- For customers that currently receive ACP broadband service at no charge, providers must have obtained an affirmative opt-in prior to charging customers for broadband service. Households are considered to have opted in if they:
- Have informed the provider they may continue providing broadband service to the household after the end of the ACP at a higher rate; or
- Were pre-existing paying internet service customers at the time the household enrolled in the EBB Program or the ACP.
- The opt-in must be collected either orally or in writing.
- Providers may seek opt-in from households at any time before increasing the household's bill due to the end of ACP.
DWT is continuously monitoring developments and will provide updates as more details emerge about additional funding or the wind-down of the ACP. DWT is working closely with service providers to implement and comply with these new requirements and can assist your organization. Please contact us for additional information or assistance with these issues.