Millions of low income households across America will soon be eligible for a $50 per month discount on their Internet bill and more through the FCC’s new “Emergency Broadband Benefit” program! This program, approved by the Federal Communications Commission just last week, sets aside $3.2 billion to help low income households access the Internet during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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What does the Emergency Broadband Benefit provide?
The FCC’s new subsidy program provides a $50/month discount on broadband internet service for eligible households. They also provide a one-time $100 discount on a computer or tablet.
For households on Tribal lands, the internet subsidy will be as much as $75/month.
Each household is eligible for only one monthly service discount and one device discount.
Who is eligible for the FCC’s new subsidy program?
The FCC’s new subsidy program will be available to households that meet one of these requirements:
- Households who QUALIFY for the Lifeline program, including people who receive Medicaid, Food Stamps (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veteran’s Pension or Survivors Benefits, Tribal Program benefits and more!
- Households with children who receive free or reduced price school meals
- Pell Grant recipients who received a Pell Grant during the current award year
- Households that already participate in a pandemic or low income program offered by a broadband service
- Anyone who experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 (and has a total 2020 income of no more than $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers)
This program will cover a lot of households… and it’s likely that funding will run out before everyone who is eligible receives help.
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The National Digital Inclusion Alliance, which advocates for broadband access, has stated that the program will end when the $3.2 billion runs out. It is estimated that the government would have to provide $7-$12 billion to provide boradband access to the millions of children who do not have it. In July, it was reported that approximately 17 million US children are not able to log into remote classes.
When will the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program be available?
According to Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting chairwoman of the FCC, the program will be opened to eligible households within the next two months.
This program was originally approved by Congress in Decembera s part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.
What internet providers are covered by the benefit?
This program isn’t limited to established Lifeline providers! Any broadband provider can choose to participate in this program, and participating providers will receive reimbursement for delivering qualifying broadband services or devices to eligible households. ISPs can find more information here.
How can I sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit?
The exact start date and sign-up process have not been announced yet. The FCC estimates that the benefit will be available within the next 60 days, so be sure to check their website for updates!