By Charlotte Lane, chair
West Virginia Public Service Commission
There are many programs to help low-income people pay for their electric, gas, water and telephone utility bills. However, until now there has been little in the way of assistance for internet service. During the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission created the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. That program ended December 30, 2021, and has been replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for qualifying households. Participants may also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a computer or tablet from participating providers. The sellers are required to contribute between $10 and $50 toward the purchase price. The ACP is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
According to Frontier and Suddenlink, the two largest internet service providers in the state, customers can request an internet package that costs $30 per month. When paired with the ACP, you could get basic internet service at little or no cost.
Households qualify for the ACP if the household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines ($55,500 for a family of four), or if a member of the household meets at least one of the following criteria: received a federal Pell Grant during the current award year; is eligible for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program; or participates in SNAP, Medicaid, federal public housing assistance, Supplemental Security Income, WIC, veteran’s pension or survivor benefits, or Lifeline.
If you think you may qualify, go to ACPBenefit.org to apply. Then contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill. Some providers may have an alternative application that they will ask you to complete.
The Public Service Commission does not regulate the internet, so we can’t resolve complaints against internet service providers, regulate their rates or force them to provide service in specific areas, but we are pleased to help low-income customers find resources that can make it easier to pay for the service.