The new FCC initiative, called the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), is currently accepting applications. Here’s what you need to know and how to apply.
The EBB program is aimed at helping households afford internet service amid the pandemic, in order to “connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more.”
With that in mind, the FCC has set aside $3.2 billion dollars for monthly discounts across a wide range of providers. (Check to see if yours is participating here.) If you don’t have service yet, you can also sign up for new service to take advantage of the program.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide eligible households a discount of up to $50 a month for broadband service. That number jumps to $75 a month for those living on Tribal land.
The benefit is said to be monthly, but it’s unclear when the discounts will end. The FCC says the program will stay in effect until money runs out, or for six months after the government declares an end to the pandemic — whichever comes sooner.
There’s also a one-time discount available of up to $100 off select tablets and computers. The hardware offered varies by provider, and not all are providing this part of the benefit.
Households are eligible for the program if a member meets one of the following criteria, according to the FCC:
- 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 the FCC’s Lifeline program;
- 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 through 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.
Applications for the program are being accepted online, and approval is potentially instant. How the discount is implemented, however, isn’t clear just yet. It will likely be a monthly discount taken directly off of your bill.
“We’re connecting with our community-based organizations, we’re sharing it with stakeholders because we want people to know that this benefit exists and it’s there for their use,” said Lupita Sanchez Cornejo, Director of External Affairs at AT&T, one of the communications companies participating in the program.
AT&T, Verizon, Charter, Comcast, T-Mobile and others have pledged support for the program. Spectrum, meanwhile, has two websites for those looking to take advantage: one for current customers at spectrum.net/broadbandbenefit, and another for those interested in signing up for service under the program at spectrum.com/getqualified. Alternatively, customers can call 1-855-662-9946.
Ready to apply? Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org or contact your provider directly to learn more. Customers interested in mail-in applications can call 1-833-511-0311.