AFFORDABLE CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM WILL BRING LONG-TERM BROADBAND ACCESS TO HAWAII RESIDENTS
News Release from DBEDT, Dec 17, 2021
HONOLULU – As the COVID-19 pandemic moves us deeper into a digital world, internet connectivity is more critical than ever to access essential services including education and healthcare. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was created in response to COVID-19, is designed to modify and extend the existing Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). The Program will take effect on January 1, 2022 and continue providing discounts on internet service for low-income families statewide. ACP is funded through the $65 billion Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act that was passed by Congress in November 2021.
Currently, more than 17,000 households across Hawai‘i are enrolled in the EBB Program, providing more than $3 million in benefits locally. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Hawai‘i households could qualify for the ACP.
“The transition to the Affordable Connectivity Program through the Congress Infrastructure Bill establishes a more permanent program to address the cost of internet services for our local ‘ohana who otherwise may not be able to afford it,” said Burt Lum, Broadband Strategy Officer for the Hawaiʻi Broadband & Digital Equity Office. “This new, longer-term program brings us another step towards achieving digital equity in Hawaiʻi and most importantly, has the potential to help thousands of kamaʻaina residents have access to the digital world.”
While the purpose of this program remains the same, there are several key changes in the Affordable Connectivity Program:
Currently, the EBB Program provides a $50 discount off internet service bills per month. ACP provides up to $30 a month off internet service bills with continuance of a $75 discount for households on Hawaiian Home Lands. Households who have enrolled in the EBB program by December 31, 2021 will continue to receive their monthly discount until it decreases to $30 a month effective March 1, 2022.
In the new ACP, households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level will be eligible, compared to the EBB Program which allowed qualified households with incomes of 135% or less of the federal poverty level.
The device credit under the current EBB program will remain the same. Eligible households can receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating Hawai‘i internet service providers as long as they contribute a minimum of $10 towards the purchase price.
Hawai‘i households are eligible to apply for the ACP if one member of the household meets one of the following:
- Receives benefits from one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit;
- Qualifies for participation in the Lifeline program (with the modification that the qualifying household income threshold is at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of that size);
- Has been approved to receive school lunch benefits under the free and reduced-price lunch program or the school breakfast program;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year;
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program; or
- Receives assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
To see the full list of eligibility details and participating Hawaii internet service providers, visit www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers#Hawaii.
For more information on the Program or to sign up visit www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.