FCC Takes Steps to Wind-Down ACP Program – Potential Notices Required

Barring further Congressional appropriations, the Affordability Connectivity Program (“ACP”) is expected to last through April 2024, and will completely run out of funds in May of 2024. Accordingly, on January 11, 2024, the FCC published an Order1 detailing the wind-down of the program, which will stop accepting new enrollments on February 8, 2024.

In the Order, the FCC announced several anticipated deadlines regarding the termination of the program:

January 25, 2024 – Deadline for first of three provider notices to ACP households, which should advise ACP households about the possibility of program termination and the potential impact on their broadband service and bills.

February 8, 2024 – The FCC will freeze new enrollments for the ACP program.

Late February 20242 – Anticipated timing of FCC announcement of April 2024 as the last fully funded month of ACP, triggering the second of three required provider notices to ACP households within 15 days after the announcement. Such notice must include: 1) the date of the last bill on which the full ACP benefit will be applied, 2) the amount that the household will be billed for the service once the ACP benefit is no longer available, and 3) a reminder to ACP households of their ability to change their service and/or to opt out of continuing their service at the end of the ACP program.

April 1, 2024 – Participating providers must submit to USAC their reimbursement claims for discounted service provided to households for the February 1, 2024 uniform snapshot date and all claims and upward revisions for preceding months.

April 2024 – Projected final service month for which ACP can fully reimburse providers for ACP discounts. The third notice to consumers, consisting of the same information as the second notice, must be sent with the last bill the full ACP benefit is applied.

May 2024 – Partial provider claims for discounted service provided during this month may be available if funding remains. Providers have the option to choose whether to forego providing ACP service and receiving partial payment for discounts passed through to ACP households after the last fully funded month.

For purposes of the wind-down of the program, the FCC set forth elements for establishing a household’s opt-in to continue to receive broadband service after the end of the ACP. This includes the household’s acknowledgement of having reviewed the required disclosures from the provider as stipulated above, and establishing the household’s willingness and ability to pay for broadband service by one of three ways: 1) customers inform their provider that they will continue service at a higher rate, 2) customers were existing paying internet service customers with their current broadband provider at the time the household enrolled in the EBB Program or the ACP, or 3) customers currently pay a fee for their ACP-supported broadband service.

While the FCC is mapping out the wind-down process, there is still hope that the ACP program will receive further funding. On January 10, 2024, the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act was introduced to Congress. If adopted, the legislation would provide $7 billion for the ACP. We will keep you apprised of any developments in this regard.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Dee Herman at [email protected] or Shannon Forchheimer at [email protected].
[1] Affordable Connectivity Program, WC Docket No. 21-450, Order (rel. Jan. 11, 2024) (“Report and Order”).
[2] Assuming a last fully funded month of April 2024.