NEW: FCC AFFORDABLE CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM
Congress recently created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a new $14 billion program that will replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). The ACP is a longer-term FCC program to help households afford broadband internet service.
Any consumers enrolled in the EBB Program before 6 p.m. ET on December 30th, 2021, will continue to receive their current monthly benefit during a 60-day transition period that runs through March 1st, 2022.
Any consumers qualifying on or after December 31, 2021 will receive up to a $30 monthly benefit.
What are the changes?
- The program will now be named the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
- The ACP began on December 31, 2021.
- There will be new ways to qualify for the ACP such as: receiving WIC benefits or having an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Households that qualified for the EBB Program due to substantial decrease of income related to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 will need to re-qualify for the ACP.
- The ACP discount will be available on any broadband service offering, allowing a customer to switch service at any time.
For more information, visit ACPBenefit.org.
Lifeline: What is Lifeline?
Lifeline is a government supported benefit for qualifying low-income consumers. The Lifeline Assistance Program provides discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone and broadband internet customers. Lifeline assistance lowers the cost of basic monthly local telephone service or eligible broadband internet service. Eligible consumers will receive a $5.25 per month credit on telephone service or a $9.25 per month credit on eligible broadband service.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now using a National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier to review an applicant’s Lifeline eligibility. You can apply for Lifeline by visiting www.CheckLifeline.org by selecting your state in the drop down menu on that site. Once the National Verifier approves your application, contact Dakota Central to activate your Lifeline benefits.
Who is eligible for Lifeline?
You or someone in your household participates in one of the following federal assistance programs:
– Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
– Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
– Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8;
– Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit Program;
– Your household income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines
What restrictions apply to Lifeline?
Lifeline benefits are limited to one per household, including landline phone, cell phones or internet service. (Household is defined, for purposes of the Lifeline program, as any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income and expenses.)
Lifeline is a non-transferrable benefit. Lifeline service may not be transferred to any other person.
Lifeline customers may be required to recertify their eligibility at any time and will be required to recertify on an annual basis. Failure to recertify will result in de-enrollment from the Lifeline program.
Lifeline customers must notify Dakota Central within 30 days if they move or their household is no longer eligible for the Lifeline program.
Number of minutes-of-use provided as part of Lifeline program:
Dakota Central’s Voice Lifeline Program includes unlimited local minutes-of-use within the toll-free calling area.
Additional charges for toll calls:
Dakota Central’s Voice Lifeline Program does not include any free minutes-of-use for toll. Toll is billed at the standard toll rate depending which interexchange carrier the Voice Lifeline customer selects.
Broadband provided as part of Lifeline program:
Dakota Central’s Broadband Lifeline Program includes at least 1024GB per month at a minimum of 20/3 download/upload speeds.
Lifeline Program Certification:
Eligible customers must apply for Lifeline with the National Verifier by visiting www.CheckLifeline.org and selecting your state in the drop down menu on that site. You may apply to the National Verifier via mail by printing and completing the Lifeline Program Application Form and returning it to USAC, Lifeline Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742. Once the National Verifier approves your application, contact Dakota Central to activate your Lifeline benefits.
Lifeline Program Recertification:
Dakota Central’s Lifeline Program recertification will be done on a rolling recertification basis by USAC and the National Verifier or Dakota Central. Subscribers must recertify yearly.
De-enrolling Lifeline Program Customers:
Dakota Central Lifeline Program customers have an obligation to inform Dakota Central if they no longer qualify for Lifeline Program benefits. Customers who become ineligible must de-enroll by contacting Dakota Central directly.
In addition, there are several other situations that might result in a subscriber being de-enrolled from discounts including the following:
– If Dakota Central has a reasonable basis to believe a customer is no longer an eligible consumer, Dakota Central will send the customer a notice of impending termination. The customer has 30 days from the date of the impending termination letter to demonstrate continued eligibility by re-certifying his or her continued eligibility.
-If USAC, the administrator of universal service, provides notification to a telecommunications carrier that a subscriber has more than one discounted account, or that more than one member of a subscriber’s household is receiving service, Dakota Central will de-enroll the subscriber within five business days.
-Customers have an obligation to re-certify annually that only one member of their household receives program-supported service and they continue to be eligible. If the customer fails to provide the requested recertification within the 30-day notification period, Dakota Central will de-enroll the subscriber from program-supported service within five business days from the end of the 30-day notification. Dakota Central can de-enroll a customer who fails to re-certify after an initial 30-day notification; Dakota Central does not need to provide 30 days in addition to the initial notification and request for certification.
Where can the consumer get more information on the Lifeline Program?