The FCC, or Federal Communications Commission, established the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program last month to assist millions of Americans who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in staying connected and paying a portion of their internet costs. This involves low-income households, teachers, and everyone else who has faced significant financial difficulties during this period.
Although more long-term solutions are needed to eventually bridge the digital gap, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will help those who are on the verge of being digitally isolated remain linked. Families would no longer have to choose between putting food on the table and maintaining an internet connection so that their children can learn from home. Here’s what we learned so far about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.
Details on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
For broadband internet access, the initiative can include incentives of up to $50 per month on tribal lands, or $75 per month on non-tribal lands. A one-time discount of up to $100 is also included in the programme for internet-enabled laptops, desktops, and tablets purchased from licenced vendors. The only condition is that families who earn and use the one-time discount must contribute $10–$50 to the cost of their new unit.
Who Would Use The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
Interested families may qualify in a variety of ways, including income or participation in federal assistance programmes that someone in your family already participates in. If you or anyone in your household meets at least one of the following requirements, you may be eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit programme:
- Does meet the requirements for the Lifeline Support For Affordable Communications programme.
- Receives or received benefits from the free and reduced-price school lunch programme or the school breakfast programme in the 2019 school year, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.
- During the current school and award year, received a Federal Pell Grant.
- Since February 29, 2020, the family has had a significant loss of revenue, with a gross income in 2020 of less than $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
- Meets the eligibility requirements for a low-income or COVID-19 programme offered by a participating provider.
For more information on the Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications Program
The Lifeline Support For Affordable Communications programme is an ongoing programme that helps low-income households afford home phone service, broadband internet service, or both bundled services. You could get up to $9.25 off your monthly bill if you qualify for the programme. The Lifeline Support For Affordable Communications programme is available to households earning less than 135% of the federal poverty level or receiving income from one of the following federal assistance programmes:
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (Medicaid) (SSI)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Tribal Programs & reside on federally recognized Tribal lands.
- Tribal Lifeline
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
What Is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and How Does It Work?
Anyone participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program must apply online via the USAC once it is officially available for applications. You’ll then enter all of your details and select a participating provider in your area to support your address. Since this isn’t a refund or incentive scheme, the discount will appear as a line item on your internet bill. You’ll pay your bill to your preferred participating internet provider, and you’ll work with them to resolve any service problems, including installation. Your internet provider will then file a claim with the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to recoup up to $50 per month or $75 a month in costs.
What Internet Service Providers Are Involved In The Program?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will be supported by a large number of internet providers. There are internet providers of all sizes involved in the scheme, from fibre optics to satellite internet to DSL and mobile broadband. The following are some of the internet service providers that have signed up to participate so far:
- Charter Spectrum
- Comcast Xfinity
- Ziply Fiber
- Ting Internet
Both broadband internet providers who give their customers download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps are eligible for the programme. While the Lifeline Support For Affordable Communications Program is the quickest way to apply for the Emergency Benefit Broadband Program, it does not rule out internet service providers who have not signed up for it. Soon before the program’s launch, more internet providers could be added to the eligibility list. All interested providers should register as soon as possible.
How long will I use the benefits of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
Unfortunately, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is only a temporary measure to assist low-income families during the coronavirus outbreak. If you qualify, you can use your Emergency Broadband Benefit Program benefits for up to six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the coronavirus pandemic to be over, or before the money runs out, whichever comes first. The programme has been given a $3.2 billion budget, but no one knows how long that money will last or how long the coronavirus will be a threat.
When will I be able to sign up?
Unfortunately, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is not yet fully operational or accepting applications. The program’s specifications are still being worked out by the FCC, or Federal Communications Commission. While no formal or provisional start date has been set, the FCC is working hard to make the software available as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for more details as they become accessible.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are at risk of losing access to the internet, we don’t suggest waiting for this initiative to be accepted. Some federal benefit programmes and nonprofit organisations may provide other services available to your family to keep you online. Here are some internet choices you may be interested in:
- Program to Provide Lifeline Support for Low-Cost Communications
- PCs For People