KEY POINTS

  • Eligible households would receive up to $75 per month in internet subsidy
  • The program would provide a one-time $100 discount to buy a computer or tablet
  • Eligible households can enroll in the program from May 12

Eligible low-income families may receive a monthly discount on their internet bills as part of a new stimulus measure that would kick in this week. 

The Emergency Broadband Benefit was included as part of the roughly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in December last year. This program is run by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and under it, the agency will provide monthly internet subsidies for low-income families to ensure access to essential resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“No one should have to choose between paying their internet bill or paying to put food on the table,” Jessica Roseworcel, FCC’s acting chairwoman, said in a release, according to MoneyWise

"With the help of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, we have a new way for households to access virtual learning, for patients to connect to telehealth providers and for those struggling in this pandemic to learn new online skills and seek their next job," she added.

The new benefits would provide households with up to $50 monthly discount on broadband services and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. 

The Emergency Broadband Benefit would also provide a one-time discount of up to $100 for households looking to purchase a laptop, computer, or tablet from participating brands. However, recipients would need to pay more than $10 but less than $50 of the purchase price. 

“This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection,” Rosenworcel said, adding: “It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning. It will help those who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries. In short, this program can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people across the country.”

A household qualifies for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program discount if it has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or any member of the household:

  • Qualifies for Lifeline benefits through participation in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit;
  • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school breakfast or lunch program during the current or previous school year
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Suffered from a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020, and the household income last year at or below $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples filing jointly 
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program

Eligible households can enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program starting May 12, 2021, through an approved internet provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org/. 

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin providing eligible American households a monthly discount on their internet bills Photo: Fancycrave1 / Pixabay