The new Emergency Broadband Benefit program launches today, May 12, 2021. An initiative of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Emergency Broadband Benefit is designed to assist low to moderate-income households struggling to afford internet services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a much needed tool as it will help link eligible individuals and families to essential healthcare services, employment opportunities, online classrooms, social service benefits, and other vital resources.
The FCC explains that the Emergency Broadband Benefit “will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.” Households taking part in this program are also eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100, with the purchase of a desktop computer, laptop computer, or tablet computer from an FCC participating provider, as long as they (the participating household) contributes between $10 to $50 toward the purchase of that device. The FCC also notes that program benefits are limited to “one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.”
To be eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, households must have at least one member who meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
For households that meet the eligibility requirements for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, there are three ways to apply:
- Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process;
- Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742; or
- Go to getemergencybroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
And, for more information on the program, including consumer FAQs, an instructional enrollment video, and a list of participating broadband providers in your area, visit the program page at https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.