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How Telco Can Retain Low-Income Customers after ACP

Low-cost internet access helps close the digital divide in America — but this spring, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which supported over 22 million households with discounted internet plans, is coming to an end. 

According to a survey by Benenson Strategy Group, without these discounted plans, 65% of ACP participants fear losing their job or household’s primary source of income, and 75% fear losing access to healthcare services like online appointments or prescription refills. 

Telco providers have long relied on ACP to fund, authenticate, and distribute low-cost plans to these important customers. While ACP may be ending, carriers that partner with SheerID can use the SheeriD Verification Platform to:

  • Continue to serve communities who qualify for government assistance.
  • Maintain these valuable relationships and revenue streams.
  • Support essential internet access with new digital equity programs.  

The End of ACP and the Opportunity of BEAD

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) allowed low-income households to apply for and receive discounts of up to $30/month on their monthly internet bill. But April 2024 is the last month ACP will be fully funded, due to a lack of renewed investment from Congress.

Nearly all telco carriers relied on this program—and the authentication services it provided—to offer these discounted rates to low-income consumers. But carriers who want to retain these customer communities, and continue to support access to vital internet services, have other options to consider.

The federal government is promoting digital equity through new avenues, including the $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and its goal of increasing affordable, reliable high-speed internet access for all Americans. 

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, BEAD will fund projects intended to “construct broadband networks, establish subsidies to offset the cost of internet service for lower-income households, and create programs to provide end users with the devices and training they need to use the new and upgraded networks.” 

BEAD will manage these projects through states and territories—and require entities that receive funding to offer low-cost plans to subscribers. BEAD will also look favorably on programs that promote education, healthcare, and occupational training, along with subsidizing devices like computers and smartphones. And it’s likely that the digital equity plans each state will develop to ensure they’re meeting BEAD requirements will include provisions for assisting communities like students and the elderly, in addition to low-income households. 

Why Retaining Low-Income Customers Matters

As ACP winds down, BEAD presents a path forward for telco companies to maintain their relationships with their valued low-income customers. In addition to enabling carriers to participate in government-funded initiatives like BEAD, these kinds of low-cost plans and educational programs generate tremendous goodwill. Expanding internet service in rural areas allows residents to more easily access:

  • Telemedicine and other healthcare resources and information.
  • Digital libraries, online lectures, tutorials, and distance learning.
  • Online job training and remote work opportunities.

When telco companies support the well-being of their communities in this way, they continue to fulfill their important and long-established brand values. 

How SheerID Can Help

Many carriers relied on ACP’s authentication protocols to identify and verify low-income customers, and this is where SheerID can fill the gap—immediately. 

The SheerID Verification Platform can instantly confirm the identity and eligibility of low-income customers by verifying that they qualify for government assistance.. This authentication ensures these exclusive discounts are only provided to customers who qualify—whether they’re currently enrolled in existing programs or join after ACP ends. Our platform can be activated quickly, with teams able to set up a program in minutes. 

SheerID can also verify hundreds of other communities, including young adults, college students, seniors, veterans, and healthcare professionals. This helps companies more easily develop the kind of digital education and access programs that BEAD encourages. 

Telco companies can use SheerID to win these consumer communities—and BEAD grants—by offering exclusive discounts on rate plans, phones, and tablets. And they can create programs (or partner with other companies to offer) discounts on things like digital learning courses for new users, security products like Bitdefender, and software that enables digital engagement, like Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. 

Additionally, companies own and retain all customer data collected through SheerID during the verification process. This data can be streamed directly into CRMs or other marketing tech platforms with SheerID’s DataConnectors. Marketing teams can use this valuable first-party data to nurture customer loyalty, and use the resources in SheerID’s Marketing Hub to support and optimize their customer identity marketing programs.

SheerID is a Proven Partner

SheerID is a proven partner for companies like Walmart and Amazon to verify customers who qualify for government assistance programs. These—and hundreds more of the world’s leading brands—chose SheerID because it is: 

  • Easy to use: Marketing teams can set up a program in as little as five minutes, with zero IT support required. 
  • Powerful: Our 200K+ authoritative data sources allow companies to verify consumers with confidence.
  • Effective: Your customers’ seamless, in-brand user experience makes SheerID the highest-converting verification platform on the market.
  • Secure: We’ve helped brands prevent more than $4 billion dollars of retail fraud. 

Already, telco companies including Comcast and T-Mobile, rely on SheerID to verify exclusive offers for consumer communities, including the following:

These businesses are improving customer acquisition, loyalty, and profitability through identity marketing powered by SheerID.

Start a New Chapter in Providing Low-Cost Plans

While ACP is coming to an end, carriers can use SheerID to continue offering low-cost plans and extend their reach to more  of the customers who need them most. By verifying the communities you want to engage, you can maintain these valuable relationships, participate in meaningful government programs, and—most importantly—help increase access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet for more Americans. 

Contact our team today to learn how SheerID can support your company, and your customers, with low-cost plans. 

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