This is a big week for the FCC. More important, this is a big week for the millions of Americans who want to get and stay connected.
During the pandemic, the entire world moved online. As a result, the digital divide became a growing chasm. Suddenly, Internet access was not just nice-to-have, it was a must-have for work, healthcare, school, and beyond. For millions of people, including 17 million school children, who lack Internet access at home, this shift put them in crisis. And nearly 1 in 3 Americans say they are worried about how they’re going to pay their broadband bill.
For the past few months, my message to these Americans has been that help is on the way. Today, I can say that help has arrived.
As part of the new Emergency Broadband Benefit, millions of Americans are now eligible to receive substantial discounts on broadband service and computers.
If you qualify for Medicaid, SNAP, free-and-reduced school lunches, Lifeline, Pell Grants, or other low-cost service offerings, you can go to a local broadband provider and get a discount of up to $50 a month for broadband service, or up to $75 a month if you live on Tribal lands. Participants can also receive a one-time, $100 discount on a computer or tablet.
To sign up, eligible participants can contact participating providers directly, or they can go to fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.
People won’t receive the discount if they don’t sign up. So, the Commission is calling on all our stakeholders to help us get the word out about the Emergency Broadband Benefit and help get people connected.
But, wait! There’s more.
This week, the Commission also adopted rules to establish the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.2 billion program will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity.
Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households. To put the scale of that investment in perspective, the Emergency Connectivity Fund is the largest single effort in our nation’s history to make sure students have access to the broadband and devices they need for school. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is by far the largest-ever broadband affordability program we’ve ever had. Adopting rules for an unprecedented program and going live with another is not a bad week’s work for the FCC. It’s an even better week for the millions of Americans who will benefit from these programs.