Most Americans have internet access at home. Access to affordable and reliable internet at home is essential for students and workers.

According to data from 2021 by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, approximately 24 million American households don’t have access to the internet at home. That’s roughly one in five households.

. Online households account for 4.4 million of these households.

According to the 2022 Broadband Pricing Index published by USTelecom, internet provider association, it shows that Internet speeds have increased and prices have fallen in recent years. It is compiled public data from the Federal Communications Commission as well as other sources.

. However, some families with low incomes still find it difficult to afford the necessary equipment. The inflation has caused prices to rise across the board. For many, purchasing a tablet or computer to access the internet at their home is prohibitive. There are still ways to.

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Monthly average costs for internet services

How much does a home internet package cost per month? According to the index, the cost of the most popular internet services in 2022 was $36.33 per monthly. This package offered download speeds up to 98Mbps (or megabits per second), which is how internet speed can be measured.

Plans that offer higher internet speeds (259Mbps) cost more at an average $58.12 per monthly.

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How to apply for internet access at a low income

FCC has two programs that aim to provide affordable internet access for low-income households. The Affordable Connectivity Program helps low-income households get broadband internet at a discounted monthly rate. It also offers a discount on the purchase of a tablet or computer for one-time use. Lifeline offers a more modest monthly discount but follows a similar model. You can combine the two programs if you are eligible to receive deeper discounts and save money.

The Affordable Connectivity Program

Eligible households can receive a $30 discount per month on internet services (75 percent for tribal residents). A one-time discount up to $100 is available to purchase a tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Participants must contribute at least $10 and not less than $50 to the purchase.

Did You Know…

A household is a group of people living together who share money and are connected to the Affordable Connectivity program.

You can either submit your application online, or you can print it and mail it to us at the address. For further assistance, you can call the ACP support line at 877-384-2575. Once approved, you will have 90 days to sign-up for service with a participating provider. This includes prominent names like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.

You may be able enroll in the ACP through a provider if you have already received service.

Who can apply for the Affordable Connectivity program?

Potential applicants must verify their eligibility before applying for the ACP. You must have a household income that is at least 200% below the federal poverty guidelines to be eligible. If a member of your household meets these criteria, you may be eligible.

  • Participates at one of the following assistance programmes:

    • Federal housing assistance.

    • School lunch program that is free and at a reduced price.

    • Recipients of survivor or veterans benefits.

    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

    • Supplemental security income.

    • WIC is a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program that provides nutritional support for women, infants, and children.

  • Received a federal Pell Grant in the year the household applied for the ACP.

    • Bureau of Indian Affairs general aid.

    • Program for Indian food distribution.

    • Tribal Headstart.

    • Temporary assistance for needy families from the Tribal Tribe.

You will need to fill out the application with your name, address, and Social Security number. You will also have to choose how you would like to be eligible for the program. This could be based on your participation in select programs or your income.

Lifeline: What you need to Know

Lifeline offers eligible low-income households a $9.25 discount on internet, phone and any bundled package offered by providers. Tribal residents can get up to $34.25 off their monthly bills

For more information on eligibility, please contact your telephone company or internet provider directly. You can also call the Lifeline Support Center at 800-234-9470 or apply online.

You will need to provide your full name, address, and date of birth.

Who is eligible to receive Lifeline?

Lifeline is for people whose income falls below 135% of federal poverty guidelines.

  • Federal public housing assistance.

  • Some tribal programs.

  • Pension benefits for veterans and survivors

Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program work together

You can combine both programs to get the best discount and lower your bills. As long as both providers are participating, you can choose to use the same provider for both or mix and match. The FCC recommends that you use Lifeline for your phone service and ACP for your home internet.

Because of the different eligibility criteria, you won’t automatically get enrolled in one program even if your qualifications are met for another. The threshold for the ACP is lower than Lifeline’s 135%, and it covers more potential customers.

To keep your benefit, you will need to recertify each year for both programs. The Universal Service Administrative Co. administers Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program for FCC. They check your eligibility each year. You will be notified by mail or voicemail if USAC is unable to confirm your eligibility. Before you can lose access to the discounts, you will have 60 days to reply.