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National Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week highlights importance of phone, broadband discount programs
September 11, 2023
News media contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Public Service Commission are joining with agencies across the country marking this week as National Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week, urging eligible Michiganders to take advantage of the Lifeline telephone and broadband discount program, as well as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) broadband discount.
Lifeline is both a state and federal program that provides discounted voice or broadband service to veterans, seniors, and low-income Michiganders. This year, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has designated Sept. 11-15 as National Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week to bring attention to these discounts. Phone and high-speed internet are vital to everyday life, yet both services can be out of reach for people of limited means.
“I encourage Michiganders to check out Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program — two programs that lower costs and help more people access reliable high-speed internet or telephone services,” said Governor Whitmer, who issued a proclamation declaring this week National Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week. “Both Lifeline and ACP save Michiganders money while helping them stay connected to family and friends, health care providers, and work or school. Every person needs reliable, affordable connections to others — it’s essential in 2023. Let’s keep working together to expand connectivity and lower costs.”
The Governor noted that Michigan received $1.559 billion through the Biden Administration’s $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program to expand affordable, accessible high-speed internet to all Americans. Nearly 500,000 Michigan households are unserved or underserved by broadband infrastructure and another 730,000 households face barriers related to a combination of affordability, adoption, device access and digital literacy, according to the state’s five-year action plan to bridge the digital divide.
Dozens of telecommunications carriers in Michigan offer Lifeline. Through Lifeline, income-eligible people under age 65 get a minimum monthly discount on their bill of $8.25. Those 65 and older receive a minimum discount of $12.35.
To qualify for the state program, a Michigan customer must have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty level or participate in one of these programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Federal Public Housing Assistance.
- Tribal Eligibility Programs (and living on federally recognized Tribal lands).
- Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension Program.
In 2023, 269,511 Michiganders were Lifeline subscribers, according to the Universal Service Administrative Co.
For more information about Lifeline, see the MPSC's Federal Lifeline or Michigan Lifeline consumer tip sheets or contact the MPSC at 800-292-9555. To find a provider, check with the MPSC's list of participating companies to see if your local landline telephone company, wireless provider, or broadband provider participates in Lifeline.
In addition to Lifeline, Michiganders who meet eligibility requirements also may be able to receive financial assistance through the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program. The program provides a $30 monthly discount on broadband bills - $75 a month for those living on qualifying tribal lands - as well as a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer or tablet purchased through an eligible provider. More than 753,000 Michigan households have received assistance through the benefit.
To be eligible for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, a member of a household must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have an income at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines or participate in assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline.
- Receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.
- Have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
- Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider's existing low-income internet program.
- Receive benefits under a Tribal assistance program including Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, Tribal Head Start, and live on qualifying Tribal lands.
There are three ways to apply for the benefit:
- Go to www.affordableconnectivity.gov to apply online and find participating providers near you.
- Print a mail-in application from the ACP and return it along with proof of eligibility to: ACP Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
- Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
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