FCC Adopts Rules Regarding the Affordable Connectivity Program in High Cost Areas

On August 4, 2023, the FCC released a Report and Order1 that adopted rules to maximize provider participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”) by providing enhanced discounts for monthly broadband services in high-cost areas, in addition to the standard $30 per month benefit. Specifically, providers can provide an up-to-$75 monthly benefit to ACP eligible households in high-cost areas upon a showing of particularized economic hardship in a given high cost area.

The high-cost areas used by the Commission for the high-cost area benefit will be the same as the high-cost areas used for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (“BEAD”) program as determined by NTIA. The benefit is limited to facilities-based providers, and a participating provider seeking the high-cost area benefit must demonstrate that it would be subject to “particular economic hardship,” such that it would not be able to maintain the operation of part or all of its broadband network, if only the standard $30 monthly discount were applied to its provision of ACP service in a high cost area(s). Participating providers would need to provide to USAC an affidavit supported by an income statement and tax filings demonstrating the provider is currently operating at a loss in each of the high cost area(s) for which the provider is seeking approval to offer the high-cost area benefit.

The rules enumerated in the Report and Order will go into effect thirty days after publication in the Federal Register. If you would like to apply for the high-cost area benefit, or would like to discuss this further, please contact Dee Herman at [email protected] or Shannon Forchheimer at [email protected].