Published March 15, 2021
On February 26, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order establishing the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, a $3.2 billion federal initiative that will provide relief to households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.
UPDATE: As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting GetEmergencyBroadband.org.
The program provides a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for those on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.
Households are eligible for the program if one member of the household:
- Qualifies for the Lifeline program.
- Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast programs, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year.
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and total 2020 household income was below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
The program is open to all broadband providers, whether traditional Internet Service Providers, Lifeline providers, Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs), or non-traditional broadband providers like community-owned networks, electric cooperatives, or municipal governments. On March 4, the Commission released a Public Notice establishing milestone dates for interested providers. Non-ETCs may elect to participate by filing with the Wireline Competition Burau under a priority window that opened on March 8 and closes on March 22. ETCs may file with USAC beginning March 11. Interested providers should check here for details.
Further information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program can be found here.