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EBB Transitions to Affordable Connectivity Program This Week

Randy Sukow

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Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) issued a notice alerting service providers that they may begin submitting election notices to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Service providers who have already participated in the earlier Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program do not have to file an ACP election notice unless they intend to add service areas or connected devices to their EBB offerings.

A consolidated appropriations bill established the $3.2 billion EBB a year ago as a measure to aid low-income households stay online, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress renamed and expanded EBB and made it a permanent program in the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  

Providers currently participating in the EBB Program automatically transition to the ACP as of Dec. 31, 2021. Active EBB providers will continue to use existing Study Area Codes (SACs) and Service Provider Identification Numbers (SPINs) for the ACP and the USAC will continue to use the SAM.gov registration for reimbursements. If an existing EBB provider does not intend to participate in the ACP, the provider should notify the USAC at ACProgram@usac.org.

Providers who did not participate in the EBB, but intend to participate in the ACP should “complete the ACP election form and submit it to ACProgram@usac.org.” USAC’s Get Started Page offers helpful filing information.  Please note that USAC cannot process an election notice without an active SAM.gov registration.

The FCC must approve Non-Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) that didn’t participate in the EBB program but intend to participate in ACP. Non-ETC service providers must receive FCC approval before filing an ACP election notice. Detailed instructions and application requirements on the Provider Application Approvals page of the FCC web site. FCC approval is not required for providers that have ETC designation orders.

Update, Dec. 29 – The FCC in the Federal Register this morning published a Proposed Rule (PDF) asking for public comments on ACP implementation on an expedited basis. It sets a Jan. 5, 2022 (one week from today) deadline for comments. The document provides a contact to reach for those who “anticipate that [they] will be submitting comments but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed.” The Commission asks questions in greater detail about ETC status, automatic EBB transitions to ACP, how to determine eligible households and other issues.

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