T-Mobile’s prepaid brand Metro is conducting a regional marketing campaign in the Midwest, pitching T-Mobile’s fixed wireless access (FWA) product called Home Internet. The promotion advertises the product for a cost of $20 per month, after a $30 per month Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) discount.
Typically, T-Mobile’s Home Internet costs $50 per month if the customer signs up for autopay. It costs $55 per month without autopay. But Metro by T-Mobile is focusing on the $30 discount that subscribers can obtain if they apply for ACP. Metro is advertising the resultant cost of $20 per month for subs who get the ACP discount and also sign up for autopay.
Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore said the advertising in the Midwest is taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana; Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio; and Knoxville, Tennessee. Metro is using billboards, radio ads, and “guerrilla marketing” tactics, including signage in a pizza chain and flyers stuffed in bags of food. According to Moore, there have been 1,200 airings of a radio ad about the promotion since June 5.
Moore said the effort is likely to go national at some point later this year.
ACP, which gives low-income households a $30 discount on their monthly wired or wireless broadband bill, has turned out to also be a benefit for service providers such as T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile. Operators can target new subscribers, who previously did not have broadband. And service providers get reimbursed the $30 from the government.
However, there is a risk to service providers because the $14.2 billion funding for ACP is expected to run out by early 2024. And Congress has not acted to refund the program.
There’s a concerted effort by some high-profile people in the telecommunications space to promote ACP and lobby for its continuance.
One high-profile supporter of ACP is former FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly, who thinks the program is a really effective way to help people obtain broadband, affordably. Asked if service providers will look bad if ACP is discontinued, O’Reilly said, “Congress created this program, and Congress is going to look pretty bad if this gets defunded right before an election.”
The FCC keeps a weekly ACP tracker, and as of July 3, there were 19.22 million households enrolled in the program. The FCC data also shows that Metro by T-Mobile has been qualified to participate in ACP in all 50 states.
Earlier this year T-Mobile expanded its own participation in ACP through its Lifeline Assistance brand – Assurance Wireless.
In its most recent quarterly earnings report, T-Mobile reported 523,000 Home Internet customers. Of that, 445,000 were T-Mobile postpaid customers and 78,000 were prepaid customers from the likes of Metro by T-Mobile.