The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, making available $3.2 billion in consumer discounts on broadband services and equipment such as computers and tablets. This program – open to low-income internet users — will continue until the $3.2 billion in federal funding runs out or until six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered the program.
Several major broadband providers, including Altice, Wide Open West, Cox and others announced today that they are among the 825 broadband providers participating in the program. Other providers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Windstream, previously announced their plans to participate.
Households involved in several popular low-income programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, reduced-school meal programs, Pell Grants (awarded in the last year) or Lifeline are eligible for the discounts. Additionally, low-income households that have suffered a COVID-19-related job loss or furloughs after Feb. 29, 2020 are eligible.
The discounts include up to $50 ($75 on qualifying Tribal lands) for connectivity, as well as a $100 reduction in the cost of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if the consumer contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the equipment purchase price.
“This program will have a tremendous, positive impact on so many American households. It’s an investment in American families and a vote of confidence in the economic power of getting us all online,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC acting chairwoman, in a prepared statement about the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit program launch. “High-speed internet service is vital for families to take advantage of today’s health, education, and workplace opportunities. And the discount for laptops and desktop computers will continue to have a positive impact even after this temporary discount program wraps up.”