We understand that having access to high-speed broadband internet is critical for a modern society. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to afford this essential service. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established a program that offers subsidies to eligible households to help them access broadband internet.
The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) is a temporary program that helps families and households that are struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers a discount of up to $50 per month for eligible households to help cover the cost of broadband internet service. Additionally, the program provides a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a computer, laptop, or tablet for eligible households.
Inflation in the past year has caused a rise in income levels to qualify for the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a $14.2 billion initiative to help bring high-speed internet access to households that earn up to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
The 2023 guidelines, released in January, raise the gross income limit for a single-person household in the continental United States and territories by nearly $2,000 to $29,160. Households with seven, eight or more members will be able to qualify with income topping $80,000, $90,000 and $100,000. And those who live in Alaska and Hawaii have higher income ceilings.
Hundreds of internet service providers in the U.S. and its territories are offering high-speed internet for no more than $30 a month through the Affordable Connectivity Program, now in its second year. More than 17 million lower-income households have already signed up as of April 17, an increase of more than 90 percent since the end of 2021.
“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity,” President Biden said, comparing it to his grandfather’s need for a telephone as that technology evolved.
Nearly 40 percent of households in America qualify for the $30-a-month credit, which means “most folks will get on for nothing,” the president said. Census figures show that’s more than 50 million households.
Among the hundreds of providers that are offering all ACP-eligible families at least one high-speed plan for $30 a month or less are huge carriers, including AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications and Verizon (Fios only), and smaller providers, including IdeaTek in Kansas and Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee.
To qualify for the program, a household must meet certain criteria. The household must have a low income, or at least one member of the household must have experienced a significant loss of income due to the pandemic. Additionally, the household must meet other eligibility criteria, such as participating in certain federal assistance programs, receiving free or reduced-price school lunches, or experiencing substantial documented COVID-19 medical expenses.
It’s important to note that the program is temporary, and the discounts will end once the program funding is exhausted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic, whichever comes first.
The EBB program has already helped millions of households across the United States gain access to high-quality broadband internet. This program has been critical in ensuring that families and individuals can stay connected to work, school, healthcare, and other essential services during the pandemic.
If you’re eligible for the program, it’s important to act quickly to take advantage of the benefits. You can apply for the program directly through your internet service provider or through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
In conclusion, the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is a critical resource for families and households struggling to afford broadband internet service during the pandemic. The program offers discounts of up to $50 per month and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a computer, laptop, or tablet. If you’re eligible, be sure to take advantage of this important resource to ensure that you can stay connected to work, school, healthcare, and other essential services during these challenging times.