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Even today, there are hundreds of thousands of families across the United States that are still deprived of the benefits of the internet because of their geographical limitations (people residing in remote or rural regions) and their inability to access the internet or purchase internet-compatible devices (laptops, tablets, or smartphones) due to their financial situation. This has created a digital divide among people, with the ones who have access to internet service getting more and better opportunities and access to nearly everything in life over the ones who do not have internet access.
The government has two main programs, the EBB (now known as AFP) and the Lifeline program, that address and seek to eliminate the widening digital divide.
To understand how to qualify for the EBB program Straight Talk, learn what the EBB program is, its transformation to ACP program, and the whole application process.
EBB Program Overview
The Emergency Broadband Benefit or EBB program was launched on the 21st of May, 2021. The U.S. Congress allocated $3.2 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to help people connect to the internet and combat the negative impact of COVID-19. The primary objective of this program was to provide broadband access to people who did not have internet access and to ease the financial burden of existing broadband users by providing relief in the form of recurring monthly discounts on their internet bills.
Under the EBB program, qualified recipients were eligible for a $50 monthly discount on their internet/broadband bills. For consumers residing on Tribal lands, this broadband benefit amount is $75 each month. As the digital divide is the product of a two-pronged issue: the inability to pay internet bills and the inability to purchase an internet-compatible device (for example, a PC, laptop, or tablet). The EBB benefit also extended a one-time discount of $100 towards purchasing a tablet, laptop, or desktop PC. There was, however, a stipulation that consumers had to contribute anything between $10 and $50 to the amount of purchase.
What Is The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), And How Does It Work?
Since the EBB program was a temporary measure to bridge the digital divide and offset the negative effects of the pandemic, it ended in late 2021, and on December 31, 2021, it began transitioning to the more permanent, long-term, $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP administered by the USAC. The thing that changed from the EBB was that for households not situated on Tribal lands, the maximum monthly benefit was reduced from $50 to $30 per month. The maximum benefit for households located on Tribal lands remained unchanged at $75 per month.
Qualifying households can receive one service discount each month and a single device discount for the duration of the ACP. The qualification criteria include the following:
- Total income of the applying individuals or households must be below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (previously 135% for EBB)
- Participation in government assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, and WIC
- Someone in your household must be a current recipient of the federal Pell Grant
- Ongoing participation in the Lifeline program
- Your child attends a school that participates in the state free/reduced lunch program
- U.S. citizenship is not mandatory, and no credit check is necessary
EBB Program Straight Talk: How To Apply
Straight Talk Wireless is a top telecom service provider in the U.S., offering some of the best plans that do not mandate their customers to enter into contracts or make commitments. As an EBB (now ACP) program participant, Straight Talk Wireless offers low-income individuals and households the opportunity to obtain free internet services. Besides free internet, the following benefits are available to a Straight Talk Wireless customer who is eligible for the EBB program Straight Talk Wireless:
- Unlimited calls, texts, and data
- Highly reliable, high-speed data, quality streaming
To apply, check if you and your household qualify for enrollment in the EBB program. Once you confirm your eligibility, you can go to their website, where you can either fill out the application online or download a hard copy, fill it out and mail it to the ACP Support Center at PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
Once you are done with the application, you need to get in touch with the company to select your preferred plan to have your discount applied to your internet bill.
If you are from a low-income family who is disabled and looking to get government support, read our article on how to get a free air conditioner for disabled people.