Low Income Senior Citizens Notified We Will Lose Program That Helps Pay For Internet In April!

Hello, I’m 71 going on 72 years old, I live alone with my dog, and I don’t know if I will be able to afford internet when this program ends in April. This email was sent to me by VTEL:

On Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 04:06:05 PM EST, vermontel-no-reply@smarthub.coop wrote:

Dear Valued ACP Customer,

We regret to inform you that the FCC has advised us of the potential ending of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the very near future. We have been advised that the program will be concluding in the next few months, likely by the end of April when funds are depleted, although that is subject to change. While the program was always intended to be temporary, we, along with many Internet providers across the nation, have seen the value of the ACP program. While we are hopeful for an extension of the program, it’s important to note that such an extension would require a vote of Congress to continue to fund the program. Consequently, we must inform you of what the termination of this program means for you today and the near future, with the expectation that the program will not be renewed.

We recognize that this change will be difficult for our customers financially, and therefore, we would like to give as much notice as possible so that you may plan accordingly for the termination of the ACP program. Please take a moment to review time-sensitive information about the program’s discontinuance and actions that you may need to take going forward:

When will I be notified of the official program end date?

We will send follow up notification of the finalized end date of the program when we are made aware of it.

What does this mean to me?

Most of our customers will see their VTel bill increase by $30 when the ACP program discount is removed from their account. There are a small handful of customers who are currently receiving less than $30 credit per month. Those customers will see their bill increase by the amount of their ACP credit listed on their bill. Most customers can remain in the internet plans/packages that they are subscribed to today.

For “ACP All-In Solo Internet Max 100 Mbps” or “ACP-Only 10GB Basic customers”:

If your bill reads “ACP All-In Solo Internet Max 100 Mbps” or “ACP-Only 10GB Basic” your plan will discontinue when the ACP program concludes, and you will need to select a different plan before the program ends to continue service with VTel. Additionally, you may be required to “opt-in” in writing to be able to continue internet service uninterrupted.
For internet-only customers that are currently carrying a past due balance with VTel:
When the ACP program ends, if any past due balance remains, your Internet service may be discontinued until the past due balance is satisfied, and a new internet plan is selected. A security deposit may be required to restore services if your account is disconnected as a result.

What can I do about the ACP Program ending?

We understand that this program ending will cause a hardship for some families, and we encourage customers to contact their Senators and Congresspeople to voice their concerns about this valuable program ending. Additionally, some consumers may be eligible for the Lifeline discount benefit, which can provide up to $9.25 in credits toward their telecommunications bill. For more information, please visit www.lifelinesupport.org/.

Once again, we are hopeful that Congress will approve the necessary funding to continue to operate this vital program that is currently helping tens of millions of Americans to be able to afford their internet service; however, please note that VTel does not fund or administer this program, and the decision is within the hands of our government to approve any additional extension of this program. For more information on the ACP “wind-down” please visit fcc.gov/acp.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Amber Wilson
Director of Customer Care/Federal Programs Liaison
Vermont Telephone Co., Inc/VTel Wireless

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