All posts tagged: ACP

NaLA Submits Comments to Senate Universal Service Fund Working Group

Senate Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group sought comments on program effectiveness and necessary reforms

As the only ecosystem-based organization focused on ensuring that low-income Americans have sustainable, affordable access to essential communications services, NaLA has submitted comments to the Senate Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group focused on ensuring that low-income Americans have sustainably affordable access to essential communications each and every month. 

NaLA’s members include service providers, distributors, network access aggregators, compliance and software solutions vendors, device manufacturers, enrollment representatives, program supporters and beneficiaries invested in the future of the Lifeline and ACP programs. NaLA notes that wireless resellers play an important part in ensuring the success of these programs, including by serving over a third of all ACP subscribers.

The USF Working Group is seeking comments on the effectiveness of – and necessary reforms to – the programs funded by the universal service fund, which includes Lifeline.

Some highlights from the comments NaLA submitted:

  • NaLA submits that with ACP funding set to run out as early as April 2024, appropriated funding will be needed at least until USF reform can be accomplished.
  • NaLA proposes that either Congress and the FCC consolidate the Lifeline program with the ACP or reform both so that they better serve the goal of making essential communications services sustainably affordable each and every month.
  • NaLA recommends that any future low-income program should incorporate key program design elements from the ACP, including a robust monthly service and device benefits, technology neutrality, reasonable benefit transfer limits, and a safe harbor and entry requirements that encourage competition that translates into compelling choices and value for eligible consumers.  
  • NaLA maintains that program integrity can be preserved by conforming eligibility requirements and by reliance on the National Verifier which should be subject to continuous improvement and greater transparency.
  • NaLA submits that the effectiveness of a low-income support program should be measured by whether low-income households have sustainably affordable access to essential communications services. Adoption is a secondary benefit that can be addressed only in part by a low-income affordable connectivity benefit program.

The full comments, including an executive summary, are available here.

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Glen Echo GroupNaLA Submits Comments to Senate Universal Service Fund Working Group
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Next Century Cities Congressional Briefing Advocates for ACP Refunding

On July 19, NaLA along with The Pew Charitable Trusts, Buckeye Regional Council, Common Sense Media, and Next Century Cities hosted experts and community leaders for a Congressional Briefing focused on the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) at the Nelson Mullins office. The discussion highlighted the significant impact of the ACP and emphasized the need for its continuation and strengthening.

The event featured keynote remarks from Doug McCollough, CIO of Dublin, Ohio and Mike Lynch, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Director at NATOA and a panel discussion moderated by Kathryn de Wit from The Pew Charitable Trusts with panelists: Kenya Asli from the City of Baltimore, Maryland; Ryan Collins from the Buckeye Hills Regional Council of Governments; Khotan Harmon from the City of Austin, Texas; and Drew Garner, State Broadband Policy Advisor from Common Sense Media.

During his keynote remarks, McCollough acknowledged that while the ACP may not be the permanent solution for broadband accessibility, it has been a catalyst for progress in digital equity. The program’s innovative nature has forced various stakeholders to work together, and to advocate for high-quality broadband access for everyone, especially underserved communities. He also recognized the pivotal role of service providers in ensuring the program’s success and acknowledged the importance of communities being empowered to voice their needs effectively.

Panelists shared insightful perspectives on some of those communities. For example, Garner emphasized that 98 percent of students use the internet for homework, highlighting the need for universal connectivity to ensure equal educational opportunities. Asli discussed how the ACP has allowed previously underserved communities to engage in the digital economy. She emphasized that as more government resources and services move online, we will need to ensure equitable and sustainable access to these resources for all citizens. Collins noted that access to the internet opens doors to telehealth and remote work, offering critical opportunities for economic growth in communities.

The panelists agreed that there is an urgent need for additional ACP funds. Garner stressed the importance of the device component in the ACP and emphasized the necessity of broadband subsidies to ensure universal affordable connectivity.

Collins emphasized the importance of fiscal responsibility in continuing ACP funding, as it serves as the foundation for community prosperity and access to the global culture. He explained that a loss of ACP funding would “pull the rug out from under all that opportunity,” that has been built in rural areas. Communities “need access to the global culture so these communities don’t feel isolated. People can survive without the internet, but they can’t truly thrive. Thus, without it, it will take them back. It will suck the air out of the community”.

The panelists’ unanimous call for continued funding underscores the impact of the ACP in ensuring that millions of Americans can thrive in the digital age. NaLA believes that closing the digital divide means making broadband affordable for all Americans so that they can stay connected each and every month. We advocate for the continuation of this program to ensure individuals and families are not left without affordable and consistent access to essential online services.

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Glen Echo GroupNext Century Cities Congressional Briefing Advocates for ACP Refunding
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NaLA asks the FCC to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence

The Safe Connections Act directs the Commission to designate either the Lifeline program or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as the vehicle to provide emergency communications services for survivors

On April 12, NaLA submitted comments to the FCC on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement requirements of the Safe Connections Act. The comments urge the FCC to designate the Lifeline program as the program to provide emergency communications for qualifying survivors suffering from financial hardship because:

  • Lifeline is a permanent solution reliably funded through the Universal Service Fund (USF);
  • Lifeline subscribers are automatically eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as well, meaning survivors can use benefits from both programs;
  • And unlike the ACP, Lifeline supports voice services, and Lifeline plans generally include bundles of broadband and voice service, providing survivors with the ability to dial 911, shelters and other support services when necessary.

To adequately serve the needs of survivors suffering from financial hardship and all low-income households, and taking lessons from the successful ACP, NaLA also calls for reform of the Lifeline program, particularly in the event that ACP funding is exhausted (which is expected to be early to mid-2024).

NaLA firmly believes that connecting survivors of domestic and sexual violence is a literal lifeline to safety, providing access to information, resources and support they might not otherwise have.

You can read the full comments here, which include details on NaLA’s suggestions for Lifeline reform and other recommendations for supporting survivors of abuse through access to essential communications services.

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Glen Echo GroupNaLA asks the FCC to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence
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NaLA Establishes National Agent Coalition to Support Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program Enrollment Representatives

Formation of agent coalition committed high standards of business for ACP and Lifeline agents

Today, the National Lifeline Association (NaLA) announces the establishment of the National Agent Coalition (NAC), the national trade association for distributors and representatives who conduct in-person enrollment into the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs (ACP).

NAC will serve as a voice for agents, who are on the front lines of bridging the digital divide through these programs. They will support the industry by providing resources for agents, increasing agent impact and ensuring eligible consumers are enrolled. The group will ensure enrollment efforts are conducted with the highest level of business standards and will meet on an ongoing basis to develop and maintain a rigorous Agent Code of Conduct, among other agent and distributor resources. 

The initial NAC includes seven members: 

  • Kristi Brown –– Community Outreach Partners
  • Calen Schultz –– Community Outreach Partners
  • Jon Sarver –– Sarver Corporation
  • Stephen Alexander –– PayGO Distributors
  • Carlos Camarena –– Moreable
  • Michael Fries –– Goodnight Marketing
  • Casey Lillie –– 1 Source Communications

“Programs like ACP and Lifeline are vital to connecting all Americans to broadband. Without our agents, we wouldn’t be able to get these programs in the hands of the people who need them the most,” says David B. Dorwart, Chairman of the NaLA Board. “Our agents are essential ambassadors for these programs and NAC will work to ensure that we continue to meet the high standards of customer service and excellence that both our members and we require.”

“Agents are an integral part of the equation and deserve a clear path to long-term success,” says Kristi Brown, NAC Committee Member and Managing Director for Community Outreach Partners. “We need to focus on what happens on the ground, just as much as we are on what happens at the policy and provider level. Implementation is key. We’ve developed NAC to uphold high standards of accountability and integrity with our enrollment representatives and to avoid any confusion around enrollment practices for consumers.”

“Collaborating across the industry is the only way we can make sure that we equip our agents with the tools they need to bring ACP and Lifeline to communities in need. Forming NAC will give us a chance to standardize our processes and do our due diligence to ensure success,” emphasized Calen Schultz, NAC Committee Chair and Managing Director for Community Outreach Partners

NaLA works toward the preservation and advancement of Lifeline and the ACP through stakeholder engagement, education, collaboration and advocacy. The Lifeline program and the ACP are federally-run programs that provide subsidized data, text and voice services to qualifying low-income Americans. The United Service Administrative Company administers both programs under the direction of the FCC.

To read more about NAC, visit:

Read the official press release here.

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Glen Echo GroupNaLA Establishes National Agent Coalition to Support Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program Enrollment Representatives
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NaLA releases findings from 2022 Annual Consumer Survey

Results from more than 60,000 respondents indicate that consumers need affordable access to mobile wireless voice and broadband services to participate equally in all facets of daily life

NaLA’s Annual Survey of Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program subscribers – conducted between November 21 and December 8, 2022 provides insights into consumer demographics and experiences with FCC internet subsidy programs.

The survey results indicate that low-income consumers use Lifeline and/or ACP service to connect to family and to access other government programs, healthcare, jobs and online education.

2022 Key Takeaways

  • Consumers want and need mobile wireless: More than half of those surveyed said they would choose to have mobile and fixed broadband service if they could afford both, but 43% said mobile wireless services best meet their household needs. Only 2.5% of those surveyed say fixed broadband alone would suffice.
  • Voice, text and data are all essential. While nearly 80% of consumers surveyed value access to voice, text and data equally, consumers indicated making and receiving calls as the most important form of communication.
  • Consumers want choice and control of their benefits. More than 90% of those surveyed prefer having the ability to combine Lifeline and ACP support in order to get more robust benefits. This practice is currently prohibited in the state of California, but it’s clear consumers prefer to have the ability to combine benefits.
  • Low-income consumers need affordable access to more mobile broadband than they currently use on limited plans and budgets. More than 90% of consumers throttle their data usage over the course of the month because they cannot afford to purchase more on top of their capped plans.
  • No co-pay plans are essential to keeping low-income Americans connected. Nearly 95% of Lifeline and ACP subscribers say they cannot afford any additional payments toward wireless and broadband services. Lifeline and ACP are essential to keep low-income Americans connected.
  • Most Lifeline/ACP subscribers lack access to credit and are unbanked. More than half of Lifeline/ACP subscribers surveyed do not have a debit or credit card or a bank account.

“Imagine life without mobile wireless access to the internet in 2022. It’s nearly impossible to conceive of how a family could function. But without programs like Lifeline and ACP, many Americans would not have a phone number or an internet connection and would be cut off from society,” said David B. Dorwart, Chairman of the NaLA Board. “NaLA’s survey shows that the majority of Lifeline and ACP recipients live below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. This means that our programs are working to bring connectivity to those who need help the most. It is crucial that lawmakers continue to support these programs to ensure that all Americans have affordable access to essential communications.”

The full results, including more insights into demographics, are available here. Download the one-pager of these highlights here. 

Read the official press release here.

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Glen Echo GroupNaLA releases findings from 2022 Annual Consumer Survey
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Listen to NaLA Board Member, Danielle Perry, talk about Lifeline and ACP on “The Divide” Podcast

Danielle Perry, NaLA Board Member and chief compliance officer at TruConnect, joins host Nicole Ferraro on The Divide, a podcast from Light Reading, to talk about how the company is keeping customers connected through the federal government’s Lifeline program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

The episode covers discussions about Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP); Why TruConnect, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), is pushing back on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) potential ruling; and the need for consumer advocacy regarding mobile and home connectivity.

Listen to The Divide: TruConnect’s Danielle Perry on the role of MVNOs in keeping people online here.

Read the full transcript of this episode here.

About the National Lifeline Association (NaLA):

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the four essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Participants & Supporters, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program, and we drive this vision through our mission to “support the providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of Lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

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Chelsea BoylanListen to NaLA Board Member, Danielle Perry, talk about Lifeline and ACP on “The Divide” Podcast
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