Back in December 2020, Congress approved the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program as part of the final stimulus package under President Donald Trump. This program would give Americans with low incomes or those who lost income during the pandemic the ability to sign up for $50-per-month internet subsidies that would be administered by the Federal Communications Commission and come out of a $3.2 billion fund set up by the Treasury. On Thursday, the FCC finally revealed when and how eligible Americans will be able to sign up for those subsidies.
According to a press release, eligible households will be able to sign up for internet subsidies starting on Wednesday, May 12th to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. The families can enroll directly through their providers or on https://getemergencybroadband.org.
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As the website explains, there are a number of ways to qualify for the subsidies, from those who qualify for Lifeline benefits through participation in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, those who participate in select Tribal programs, those that experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and those who received a federal Pell Grant.
If you find out that your household qualifies for the internet subsidies, here’s what you could receive:
Up to a $50/month discount on your broadband service and associated equipment rentals
Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
Be sure to check out the website if you want to know how you can apply for the program. You will have to submit an application and be approved, which could take some time depending on how you apply.
Here’s what FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel had to say about the launch of the program: “Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to get online throughout this pandemic. For those families, we now say help is around the corner. In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities. I’m proud of the work we’ve done as an agency to get this program off the ground in record time.”
The FCC says that the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will end when the $3.2 billion fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID health emergency — whichever is sooner. If you qualify, you should sign up as soon as you possibly can.