Through the Affordable Connectivity Program, eligible low-income households or individuals all over the U.S. can receive financial assistance from the government in the form of internet connectivity discounts. These are being provided in order to bridge the growing digital divide and provide low-income households and individuals better access to information, education, technology, and employment opportunities.
On the 27th of January 2022, ACP was launched on Metro by T-Mobile. T-Mobile partnered with the program to ensure that eligible low-income T-Mobile consumers in the U.S. receive internet payment assistance through discounted monthly bills for high-speed internet. This initiative is made possible through Metro by T-Mobile and T-Mobile's Assurance Wireless. Eligible households with members that hold a Metro account can get up to $30 off on T-Mobile's broadband internet plans. Alternatively, new Assurance Wireless account holders can even receive a free phone if they meet the eligibility criteria to qualify for the ACP.
Why Is The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program Ending?
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), with Congress' approval and backing, engaged the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) for the administration of the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program having a structure and purpose similar to the Lifeline program.
Lifeline was the predominant FCC program that sought to provide affordable connectivity to low-income individuals and households. By design, the EBB was an emergency measure that was always meant to be temporary. It evolved and transitioned into a $14 billion program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) on the 31st of December, 2021.
What Are The Benefits Of The ACP Through T-Mobile?
Households or individuals that meet the eligibility criteria to benefit from the T-mobile EBB have the opportunity to receive discounts on broadband service and various internet services, as well as free or discounted prices on connected devices, such as smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, and tablets.
Some of the additional benefits of the ACP through T-Mobile include the following:
- Monthly discounts of $30 on high-speed internet packages
- Up to $75 monthly discounts for households or individuals residing on qualifying tribal lands
- A one-time $100 discount on the one-time purchase of digital devices, such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers — beneficiaries of this option will need to co-pay an amount between $10 and $50 for said purchase
- Unlimited talk time, text messages, and high-speed data, with up to 5GB of hotspot data and 100GB of Google One cloud stage for just $20/month
- High-speed internet connectivity (4G/LTE/5G)
- The potential to qualify for a free cell phone
Who Is Eligible For The ACP Benefits With T-Mobile?
According to the FCC website, several factors contribute to making a household or an individual eligible to benefit from the ACP initiative. To be considered a worthwhile candidate for ACP benefits with T-Mobile, households or individuals must meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:
- Their income is equal to or less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- The household or individuals within the household are recipients of federal aid and assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, SSI, Lifeline, or federal housing assistance (Section 8)
- Tribal applicants are participants in Tribal assistance programs such as Tribal TANF, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- The individual applicant or someone in the household is a recipient of the federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- A child in the household is eligible for the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program
- The applicant is eligible to participate in T-mobile's ongoing low-income program
It is, however, important to note that only one monthly discount per household is allowed.
Discounted And Free Metro Plans
Eligible T-Mobile consumers (households and individuals) can opt for a discounted or free Metro plan that offers unlimited talk time and text messages.
T-Mobile is offering these plans due to its participation in the ACP, which is aimed at offsetting internet bills of low-income consumers by providing a monthly discount of $30 for eligible regular consumers and $75 for consumers residing on qualifying Tribal lands. Currently, there are four T-Mobile Metro prepaid plans that are eligible for this ACP benefit:
- $30/month unlimited ($60/month for ACP ineligible consumers)
- $20/month unlimited ($50/month for ACP ineligible consumers)
- $10/month unlimited ($40/month for ACP ineligible consumers)
- Free unlimited ($30/month for ACP ineligible consumers)
These prepaid plans have different features, including unlimited minutes and text messages, unlimited high-speed data, 5G access, and scam call blocking. The two higher-cost plans offer additional features, such as 100 GB cloud storage, unlimited international calling, and 5-10GB hotspot data.
Free Assurance Wireless Unlimited Plan
Assurance Wireless is T-Mobile's primary Lifeline Assistance program that aims to assist low-income individuals and households. The free Assurance Wireless unlimited plan entails the following free benefits for eligible low-income customers:
- Unlimited data
- Unlimited text messages
- Unlimited call minutes
- 10GB monthly mobile hotspot data
- Free Android smartphone for new customers (model based on availability)
- Scam Shield with free Scam ID
- Scam Block
- Caller ID
Navigate the digital divide with ease by exploring additional opportunities! Learn how Walmart is enhancing digital access through their EBB Laptop Program on our latest blog post, ensuring you are well-equipped and informed to make the best technological decisions in this era of connectivity.
Want to learn on how to get a free phone through EBB? Check out our article about it today to learn more!
To learn more about different grants and programs that can help low-income individuals, read our article on how to enroll in the Xfinity ACP program.