Posted by CommLaw | Mar 12, 2024 | 0 Comments

On March 4, 2024, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing that the last full month of reimbursements for low-income households enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will be April 2024.

Providers are required to send three written wind-down notices to all ACP subscribers. The first notice,  issued no later than January 25, 2024, was to advise subscribers that the ACP may possibly end.  The second notice is to be sent to subscribers by March 19, 2024, and the third required notice must coincide with the last bill or billing cycle in which the full ACP benefit is applied. The second and third notices must indicate that the ACP is ending and include (i) the date of the last bill on which the full ACP benefit will be applied, (ii) the amount that the household will be billed for the service once the full ACP benefit is no longer available, and/or (iii) that the household will be subject to the provider's undiscounted rates and general terms and conditions after the ACP ends. The second and third notices also must remind ACP households of their ability to change their service and/or to opt out of continuing their service at the end of the ACP. The FCC strongly encourages providers to include in these notices information on their lower cost offerings and low-income programs.

Providers will continue to be responsible for most of the FCC's ACP consumer protection rules.  Providers may not, for example, terminate the service of an ACP subscriber for failure to pay a bill until 90 days after the billing due date. Further, providers may not charge ACP subscribers an early termination fee for ending an extended agreement. Finally, once the ACP is terminated, providers may not advertise ACP or engage in false or misleading advertising regarding ACP.

Partial ACP reimbursements for the month of May 2024 will be available for qualifying subscribers who opt to continue to receive broadband service. Providers may not claim reimbursement in May, however, for more reimbursement than the discounts that are passed on to ACP subscribers. Further, providers that intend to seek reimbursement for May services must notify the subscriber in writing that the partial ACP benefit will be less than they have received in prior months and that undiscounted rates and full terms will apply after the May billing cycle. The FCC is expected to release another Public Notice later in March 2024 to provide more details regarding the May 2024 partial reimbursement process.

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