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In today's fast-paced world, having reliable internet access is no longer optional. We need it for work, school, financial transactions, and even healthcare. If you struggle to pay for broadband services, you know how tough this can make things.
The great news is that there's help available. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps low-income households with the cost of home internet or cell phone service. In some cases, eligible households can get free internet service or a free cell phone plan.
Below, I'll tell you about the ACP benefit and how you can use this government program to get free or discounted service on T-Mobile's 4G LTE and 5G wireless network.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in 2021 as a way to provide affordable internet access to households with limited financial resources.
With a monthly ACP discount, eligible households can enjoy the following benefits:
- A discount of up to $30 per month on internet service or a phone plan
- A discount of up to $75 per month for residents of qualifying Tribal lands
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet, with a required copay ranging between $10 & $50
Each eligible household is limited to one discount on an internet plan and one discount on a device.
Who qualifies for the Affordable Connectivity Program?
ACP qualification is income-based. You may be eligible if your household income falls at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
There are certain assistance programs that can automatically qualify you for the program:
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Free or reduced-price school lunch program (including the USDA Community Eligibility Provision)
- Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
Additionally, certain Tribal-specific programs automatically grant eligibility for the ACP, including:
- Tribal assistance programs
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal TANF
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
For a comprehensive overview of the eligibility criteria, please refer to our guide. Do you qualify for ACP?
If you reside in qualifying Tribal lands, you can explore the enhanced Tribal benefit, which provides a monthly service discount of up to $75 for eligible consumers.
T-Mobile Affordable Connectivity Program
T-Mobile is a participating provider in the ACP. It's important to note that you cannot use your ACP benefit with T-Mobile's main brand. Rather, they offer the benefit via Metro by T-Mobile and their Lifeline program, Assurance Wireless.
Since T-Mobile home internet is only available through its T-Mobile brand, your options are limited to cell phone plans from its partner companies.
Metro by T-Mobile ACP phone plans
Affordable Connectivity Program plans available from Metro by T-Mobile include:
- 5GB of high-speed data for around $5 a month (free with AutoPay)
- Unlimited data plan with MLS Season Pass & ViX Premium - around $10/month
- Unlimited plan with the above plus 8GB of hotspot data - around $20/month
Assurance Wireless ACP phone plan
Customers choosing Assurance Wireless can receive:
- Free Android smartphone
- 25GB of high-speed data
- 2.5GB of mobile hotspot data
The Assurance Wireless ACP benefit is totally free for qualified households using their ACP credit.
Alternative T-Mobile ACP phone plans
While T-Mobile actively participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program, you may be unaware that some low-cost carriers, known as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), also offer the program.
Opting for a T-Mobile MVNO can maximize the value of your ACP benefits. Let's take a look at a couple of the options available from participating providers:
Red Pocket Mobile ACP plans
- 1GB, 5GB, or 20GB of high-speed data - free
- Unlimited data plan - around $10
- Free global international calling
- Free roaming in Canada & Mexico
- A tablet for purchase with your ACP device discount
Learn more about this carrier in our Red Pocket Mobile review.
Boost Mobile ACP plans
- 5GB of high-speed data - free
- Unlimited data plan with 12GB mobile hotspot data - around $10
- Unlimited Plus plan with 30GB hotspot data - around $30
For convenient sign-up, you can choose your plan and sign up online. Find out more about this MVNO with our Boost Mobile review.
Advantages of T-Mobile MVNOs
Switching to a low-cost carrier to use with your ACP benefit offers several advantages:
- No contracts
- Add-ons and perks, like mobile hotspot data usage
- Bring your own phone option
- Flexibility to switch carriers at any time
Even if you do not meet the eligibility criteria for this federal government program, switching to a budget-friendly carrier is a smart move, potentially saving you up to $700 annually on your wireless bill.
How to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program
Applying for the ACP is a straightforward process:
- Go to Get Internet and click on the "Apply" button.
- Alternatively, use the provider application if they offer one.
- Once you receive approval, contact an Affordable Connectivity Program provider.
- Select your cell phone plan to activate your discount.
For an in-depth guide on the application process, including the required documentation and how to mail in your ACP application, please refer to our detailed guide, How to apply for ACP.
T-Mobile Affordable Connectivity Program FAQs
The T-Mobile Affordable Connectivity Program is available through its subsidiary carriers, Assurance Wireless and Metro by T-Mobile. If neither of these fits your needs, you can use your ACP benefit with other participating T-Mobile MVNOs.
Take the initiative to apply now and determine your eligibility, and you can soon begin enjoying the advantages of this valuable program.