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May 30, 2024
4 min

4 Ways Telcos Can Address the End of the Affordable Connectivity Program

A woman viewing a phone next to a child playing sports

As a telephone cooperative or independent telephone company in the broadband space, you’re likely anticipating the ending of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). With the last fully funded month being April 2024, the $14.2 billion program will certainly affect your members that have been relying on the ACP to provide affordable broadband. 

Many large providers, like AT&T and Comcast, are prepping for the shut down and have openly shared their plans for the large subscriber base that will be impacted. Comcast plans to grant ACP recipients partial credits, promote new programs targeted at ACP recipients, and offer discounts. AT&T will also continue to offer a low-cost plan at just $30 a month. 


Can Large Providers Use the End of ACP To Target Your Members?

It’s quite possible that large providers will reach out to your subscribers during this time, particularly those that previously received ACP benefits, and they may be tempted to switch. Depending on your serving area, those large providers may have influence on your customer base. 

Comcast estimates they have roughly 1.4 million subscribers that received ACP benefits, who would be concerned about ACP ending and show interest in new programs and discounts. These subscribers may live in the same zip codes as your own customers and could be susceptible to aggressive marketing and price-based packages. 


What Can Telcos Do To Help ACP Recipients? 

Now is a good time to consider how you plan to address ACP recipients. A smart strategy will help you retain existing subscribers and gain new ones. You can certainly create similar remedies as the larger providers—but keep in mind that you have a community focus they can’t offer. 

Here are four strategies you can deploy to help address the gap caused by the ACP ending:

  1. Build community Wi-Fi access into your serving area and plans. By offering Wi-Fi across your footprint, you can give access to this connectivity specifically at a rate for ACP recipients. Community Wi-Fi is a big differentiator because it helps you provide connectivity in places that others can’t—and this allows members to do so much more, no matter where they are. Whether it’s Wi-Fi at a football field to capture winning touchdowns and post them on social media, or by providing schools with Wi-Fi that covers digital learning across the entire campus, this secure, ubiquitous offering is a gamechanger. 

  2. Offer managed services. Think about what managed services you have and add them to packages for ACP recipients. You may have a mobile app, network security, parental controls, managed Wi-Fi, or bundled services to offer as incentive for members to stay. As you continually build out your managed services portfolio, you can increase member loyalty even more, as these services offer a customized experience that delivers real value.

  3. Keep giving back to the community. Nobody can serve your customers quite like you. Continue to dedicate time and resources to helping your community, whether through digital literacy education or fundraisers. The more time you spend with your community members, the more you’ll understand their needs and challenges—which will help you not only assist the ACP recipients, but every single subscriber. 

  4. Design new packages. You can certainly create competitive packages designed especially for ACP recipients and allow them to switch over with zero penalties as the program winds down. Consider pricing them similar to what ACP had offered, and with comparable speeds—but bear in mind that both speed and price will only get you so far. 

With these four strategies, you can arm yourself as a telco to battle big providers—and win. As ACP closes out, the digital divide will remain. As a telco, you’re in the perfect position to step up to the call and help millions of Americans remain connected to high-speed internet.


Learn more about community Wi-Fi by downloading our eBook, “Community Wi-Fi Reimagined: How You Can Succeed Where Others Failed.” 

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