The FCC started the ACP to provide internet access at low cost to people who could not otherwise get it. The program has multiple providers eager to get your business and want you as a customer for life. Consider these points while choosing your ACP provider.
For ACP, you are purchasing reliability. The FCC requires that the providers deliver at least 10 Mbps download speed 90% of the time regardless of whether or not the subscriber is using the connection.
If you check with your neighbors around where you live about their service, you might also ask if they have experienced any interruptions.
The price of the service is significant. You might assume that all ACP service providers have the same price because that’s what they have advertised.
The FCC requires that ACP First Responders provide a “rough estimate” of what your monthly bill will be when you sign up. To give you a standard, let’s say the lowest advertised price is $10 per month.
In reality, most ACP providers have different rates for different internet service speeds, with some starting as low as $1 per month for 10 Mbps download speed and going up to $150 per month for 100 Mbps download speed.
If you were to sign up for 100 Mbps download speed with the least expensive provider, you would pay $1 per month plus an additional fee of $5 per GB if you go over your data cap.
3. Customer Service
You must pick a company with customer service representatives in the same areas where you live. It is also helpful to have service call centers in the same place. That way, you can resolve service issues faster if you need to file a claim or request assistance.
4. Data Caps
Data caps are the amount of data each subscriber receives during their billing cycle before charging them an additional fee. The FCC requires that ACP service providers inform subscribers of their data cap when the contract is signed and send out a reminder when the user reaches the data cap.
5. Areas Served
Although the ACP states that the program is for people who have “no access” to broadband internet, not all areas are covered. If you live in a place with little to no cell phone service, you might consider satellite internet.
However, since it takes a line of sight to get a signal from the satellite, you might not receive internet if there are trees or other obstructions between you and the satellite.
Although ACP service providers use different technologies to deliver service, some of them may have difficulty getting signals where there is foliage.
6. Speed of Installation
ACP internet providers have differing requirements for installation procedures. In general, the more hoops you have to jump through, the worse your service will be.
The FCC requires that ACP service providers install your service within a reasonable amount of time. If you have a unique situation, such as living in a non-serviceable area or having an unconventional structure for the equipment to be mounted on, make sure the ACP provider fully understands what you need before you sign up for service.
ACP providers want your business and will work hard to get it. You can trust that most providers are reputable with the best interest of their subscribers in mind.