Cricket Wireless EBB Program Before Transitioning To ACP

Cricket Wireless is one of the many mobile virtual network operators (or MVNOs) with affordable cellular service in the country. It’s also one of the few you would get a free phone service without paying anything. But as of now, the Cricket Wireless EBB program that offered this Free service is under a different name, ACP.

Technically, ACP still has quite many things similar to the EBB, such as the eligibility requirements and how to apply. However, it’s a different program, in particular for the part of funding and allowances, as we shall see shortly.

What’s Cricket Wireless EBB Program

After 2019 reached our streets, many businesses closed their doors. There was a spike in mass layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts, which then led to economic hardships across many homes. People now would focus on only their basic needs, as it was not clear when the streets would open up again.

Well, a phone is one of those non-essential needs that are now almost impossible to live without. It’s more or less a modern-day basic need, as you need it to keep in touch with loved ones, employers, emergency services, schools, and others.

Weird intro short, in early 2021, the government launched the emergency broadband benefit (or EBB) to help people who has affected financially afford internet service. The federal communications commission (FCC) was to oversee this program. But as with the lifeline program, the FCC passed the mandate for administering the EBB funds to the universal service administrative company (USAC).

Cricket Wireless EBB Program

However, the USAC was not to pay the benefit funds to the individual consumers. They had fixed internet providers and mobile carriers interested in participating in the assistance program apply. The service provider in turn would extend the benefit to the consumers as a discount on their service. Then the USAC would pay back the amount of the “discount” of each registered consumer to the provider.

Cricket Wireless is one of the cellular phone carriers registered to offer the EBB program to its customers. Since it’s a prepaid operator, though, the amount they would recover from the EBB bank was enough for a free service in select plans.

How Much Do I Save on the Cricket Wireless EBB Program?

Cricket Wireless, like any of the other providers with free phones on the EBB program, had this discount in two main categories. The categories are for the people on the tribal lands and those in non-tribal areas. But before we touch on that, let’s start with the funding.

The formation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit dates back to late 2020. On  December 27, 2020 the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 became law and established an Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund. The connectivity fund came from the U.S. Treasury in amounts of $3.2 billion, intended to support the assistance program temporarily.

Out of the three-plus billion, the consumers eligible for the EBB program would get a subsidy of up to $50/ month. And based on the Cricket Wireless Relief page at the time, you would redeem the benefit on the Cricket More, Cricket Core, and Cricket Simply Data subscriptions.

After applying the discount, this would mean the customers on the Cricket More plan (with a regular price of $60) would now pay $10/ month or $5 with Autopay. The eligible subscribers of the Cricket Simply Data plan (with a regular plan of $55) would also have to pay $5/ month. Only the Cricket Core service plan (with a regular price of $55) offered a full discount or a FREE subscription, provided the Auto Pay mode was on.

Can I Get Free Service with Cricket Wireless EBB Program on Tribal Lands?

Basically, the new pricing under the Cricket Wireless EBB program revolves around subtracting the amount of the subsidy from the pricing of the service plan used. And this would mean the $75 subsidy for tribal lands would cover the full cost of even the Cricket More or Simply Data plan.

Keep in mind, the Cricket More plan has every perk available on the brand: priority data, unlimited data with no cap, plus free HBO Max and cloud storage. It’s a seemingly worthwhile deal in the long run.

How to Apply for the Cricket Wireless EBB Program

Usually, there are two main ways to apply for connectivity assistance programs from the government. In the case of Emergency Broadband Benefit, you would either apply directly from the carrier or use the dedicated federal government platform.

Unfortunately, you would only apply directly for EBB through the eligible telecommunication carriers (ETC): the phone providers that offer lifeline government phones. Then for the rest of the cases, like with our Cricket, you would need to first apply on the dedicated channel at

And after the National Verifier approves your application, you would come back to Cricket and fill out the EBB enrollment form to enroll your service account.

If the National Verifier declined your application to the EBB program, chances were you didn’t have what it takes to qualify. The EBB, as I’ve mentioned before, was only available to low-income households. You had to prove eligibility with either a proof of low income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. Or else show you participate in assistance programs such as:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental security income (SSI)
  • Lifeline government phones program
  • Federal public housing assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans & Veteran’s Survivors Pension
  • A Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Head Start, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, and other Tribal-administered assistance programs
  • School Breakfast or School Lunch Program (including from the USDA Community Eligibility Provision).

One Enrollment Per Household for the Cricket Wireless EBB Program

Besides the proof of eligibility, the National Verifier would have declined your application for EBB if you haven’t met the other requirements. One of these requirements is when you apply for the broadband program, yet another member of your family has registered as well.

No, of course, two members from the same family could have applied and qualified if living separately. The time both of you won’t have qualified is when you’re living under the same roof and sharing income/expenses. Why so?

Again, similar to the lifeline government phones program, the Emergency Broadband Benefit only allowed one registration per household. A “household” in this case is a person or group of people who are living together at the same address and share income/ expenses.

If living in the same building but don’t share income, that qualifies as different households. A perfect example is the case of roommates in the same block or seniors in the same care home, who don’t share money.

A student living alone would also have applied and qualified for EBB, even when the parents back at home have enrolled. The two are different households.

Under this policy of only one per household, you were also not to apply for EBB from multiple providers. Remember, your application had to go through the national Verifier (managed by USAC, by the way). And if they notice your household is already benefiting, they would decline your second enrollment, or worse, disqualify you.

How Long Will the Cricket Wireless EBB Program Last?

When it first launched in 2021, the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) really helped a lot of people. By the end of that year, a total of 9,048,536 households had enrolled (8,909,227 in Non-tribal areas & 139,309 on tribal lands).

The figures, as the USAC have printed them on their site, would remain at this place since the EBB was closing for enrollments. It happens that the government has already come up with a longer-term affordable connectivity program (ACP). And this program was to replace the EBB permanently from December 31, 2021.

If you have been keen until this point, you’ll notice I’ve used past tense to refer to the EBB program, as it’s no more. After all, it was a temporary program the FCC has projected to end after the allotted Fund was expended was no longer a health emergency.

Cricket Wireless EBB Program vs Cricket ACP

As mentioned in the beginning, the EBB and ACP have quite a lot of things in common. Let’s start with eligibility, they both only cater to low-income households across the country. Like EBB, the ACP requires proof of low income or participation in a qualifying government-funded assistance program.

If enrolling through the assistance programs, the options I’ve mentioned above for EBB apply to ACP as well. But for enrollment through a low income, your total household amount should now be 200% (not 135%) of the latest federal poverty guidelines.

Furthermore, the ACP is still on a single enrollment per household. You shouldn’t apply again if another member of your “household” is already receiving the benefit.

Speaking of applying, the process to enroll for the Cricket Wireless ACP is slightly different from the EBB program. YES, the National Verifier (under the USAC) is still responsible for determining whether you qualify or not.

However, you can now get the Cricket Wireless Affordable Connectivity Program Enrollment directly without routing to the National Verifier. You just need to enter your Cricket phone number in the appropriate field and Submit. Cricket will forward your application to the National Verifier, who will then approve/ disapprove it.

Once approved for ACP, you can now come back to Cricket and finish syncing your service account. You can complete the process either with the Cricet ACP enrollment Form online or in person from the local Cricket store.

What Do I Get with Cricket Wireless ACP?

The major difference between the Affordable connectivity program (ACP) and emergency broadband benefit (EBB) is in the funding and allowances.

In the funding, the ACP is part of the $1.2 Trillion budget the Biden administration passed in November 2021 for infrastructure expansion. And in this budget, our broadband benefit received a total amount of $14.1 billion, about 440% of what EBB had.

With higher funding, we would expect the subsidies on ACP service to be higher than EBB. However, the reality is the opposite, as most of the eligible households get a $30 discount (instead of $50). It’s only the applicants on the Tribal Lands continued to receive their regular benefit of $75.

Unlike the time of the EBB program, the ACP benefit can be applied to either of the four Cricket service plans. But most people are on the $30 subsidy, which you can only get a free service on the basic 5GB plan. The rest of the plans will only get partial payment, then the remaining balance will be due beginning of the month.

The Cricket Wireless ACP is a Longer Term Benefit

In conclusion, that’s everything relevant you should know about Cricket Wireless EBB Program. I’m still not sure why EBB is still trending on search engines when ACP is the existing broadband benefit. But it’s also not exactly a huge issue as the FCC, USAC, and broadband providers that used to have EBB have updated their sites.

For instance, the web pages that covered EBB on Cricket Wireless have acknowledged the official takeover by ACP. Then again, apart from the confusion of wording, the government created the two programs for the same reason: to bring affordable broadband services to low-income households.

The most significant difference we can say has set the two apart is the fact Affordable Connectivity Program is a longer-term benefit. It has been over a year since the official takeover, with more than 7,920,590 new enrollments between January 2022 and April 2023.

There are still no official details on the exact date when the ACP will end, not even from the FCC sources. It could go until 2024, 2025, 2027, or even last forever if the government found a way around it, like the lifeline

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