Broadband providers have been testing the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) and now, the Commission says it’s ready to roll out. As of May 12, eligible households can begin enrolling in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider.
“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,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “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.” Rosenworcel added she’s proud of the work the agency has put in to get the program rolling in “record time.”
Between now and the start date, the FCC encourages partners and participating providers to conduct outreach efforts so that every eligible household knows about the program and how to sign up. The Commission will provide materials for partners to use for this purpose. During this time, the FCC and its program administrator, USAC, will continue to ensure that appropriate privacy and security safeguards are in place. The agency also urges providers to continue to test their own systems for the program launch.
“The entire wireless industry, including all three nationwide providers and more than 50 regional providers and MVNOs serving 99 percent of Americans, is working hard to ensure millions of low-income consumers are able to access this important benefit during this challenging time,” said CTIA SVP Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann. “We look forward to a successful launch and to continuing to work with the FCC to make it easier for these Americans to stay connected to their families, friends, jobs and schools.”
The EBB will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on tribal lands. It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.
Under federal law, the program is open to households that participate in an existing low-income or pandemic relief program offered by a broadband provider and Lifeline subscribers, including those that are on Medicaid or accept SNAP benefits. It’s also open to households with kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast; Pell grant recipients; and those who have lost jobs and seen their income reduced in the last year. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.