Broadband subsidies could end in April for 360K households in Puerto Rico
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides monthly subsidies to eligible U.S. households, is expected to end in April due to a lack of additional funding from Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, which administers the program, recently announced.
The end of the program could affect more than 360,000 Puerto Rican households benefiting from a $30 monthly subsidy for broadband services.
Congress introduced the ACP through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021 with an initial $14.2 billion appropriation. The FCC was tasked with the development and implementation of the ACP, including outreach and awareness efforts. Currently, the program supports more than 22 million households.
However, on Jan. 11, the FCC released an order announcing steps to wind down the program due to the unavailability of additional funding. The existing ACP resources are estimated to run out in April.
The FCC’s steps to conclude the ACP include:
- No new ACP enrollments will be accepted after Feb. 7.
- Households enrolled with an ACP internet provider before Feb. 7 will continue to receive the benefit until the funds run out, as long as they remain enrolled and eligible.
- When ACP funds run out, participating households will no longer receive the monthly discount.
Last week, as the FCC required, Claro Puerto Rico notified its customers about the potential effects of the ACP’s termination.
“It’s our duty to inform you that the possible end of the ACP program could have an impact on your monthly bill. This determination would affect all participating providers and/or companies that offer broadband services in Puerto Rico,” the carrier stated.
“We want to assure you that, at Claro, we are actively working on evaluating additional alternatives and strategies to mitigate this situation. We urge you to be attentive to our next notices, in which we will inform you about the specific dates related to the end of the program,” Claro communicated to its customers on Jan. 24.
Carriers in Puerto Rico, citing FCC regulations, declined to disclose the number of affected households.
The FCC has detailed the ACP wind-down procedures, including notifying enrolled households about the termination’s implications on their services and bills, halting new enrollments and guiding providers on marketing, outreach, claim submission timing, and operations during the program’s partially funded final month.
While ACP resources are anticipated to last until April, households aiming to benefit from the program are urged to apply “as soon as possible” to allow time for processing so that an eligibility determination can be made, and the eligible household can sign up with an internet provider by Feb. 7, the agency stated.
During the wind-down, the FCC assures that enrolled consumers will be informed about the program’s conclusion, its impact on their bills, the final bill incorporating the ACP benefit, and their options to modify services or opt out after the ACP’s termination.