For Americans struggling financially and not able to afford internet service, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has kicked off the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program which will allow eligible households discounts on broadband service and computers.
This includes an internet service discount of up to $50 per month, or $75 on qualifying Tribal lands.
Households will also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
“This program will have a tremendous, positive impact on so many American households. It’s an investment in American families and a vote of confidence in the economic power of getting us all online,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC. “High-speed internet service is vital for families to take advantage of today’s health, education, and workplace opportunities. And the discount for laptops and desktop computers will continue to have positive impact even after this temporary discount program wraps up.”
Households can qualify through their use of existing assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline or if a child relies on reduced-price school meals programs.
The EBB is also available to households who are eligible for a broadband provider’s existing relief program, to those who have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year, and to those low-income households who suffered a large loss in income during the pandemic due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020.
This pandemic-related program will continue until the $3.2 billion in federal funding runs out or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic, says the FCC.
This program comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic forcing the majority of Americans to stay home and go to school and work virtually. The country’s already daunting digital divide intensified as the dependence on technology and internet services became critical.
AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh, one of the participating providers in the EBB program said “the pandemic proved that all Americans need reliable broadband connections for everything from applying for jobs, to working at home, to participating in school.”
“We are eager to step up and work hand-in-hand with the federal government to provide relief to customers while helping to bridge the Digital Divide. We and others will also continue to work with Congress to create long-term sustainable solutions to help low-income families pay for broadband long after the program ends.”
Over 825 broadband providers are taking part in the program.
The benefit is available to eligible new, prior, and existing customers of participating providers.
Customers can sign up by contacting a participating provider, enroll online at getemergencybroadband.org, or sign up via mail by calling (833) 511-0311.