Eligible Americans Can Sign Up For Broadband Discounts Next Week

Assistance to help shorten the Digital Divide

Eligible American households will be able to apply for federal assistance for broadband internet starting May 12. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is opening registration for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program next week through an approved broadband provider or the program’s website

Closeup of a broadband router.

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The FCC announced the program earlier this year as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes a $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund. 

"Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to get online throughout this pandemic," Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC's acting chairwoman, said in a press release.

"…We will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities."

The new program will provide broadband discounts up to $50 a month for service, and up to $75 a month if someone is located on Tribal land. Eligible households also will receive a one-time discount of up to $100 that can go towards purchasing a computer or tablet. 

"…We will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life..."

Those eligible for the program include people at or below the  Federal Poverty Guidelines, those who participate in certain government assistance programs (such as Medicaid), households with kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast, those who received a Federal Pell Grant in the past year, and those who experienced a substantial loss of income as a result of the pandemic. 

Participating broadband providers include AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as local broadband companies.

The FCC said the new program is designed to help struggling American families gain necessary broadband access, while also helping to close the digital divide

Equal access to broadband networks is increasingly becoming an issue in the US. The FCC estimates that more than 21 million people in the United States lack a broadband connection. Broadband access is especially sparse in rural areas, where nearly three in 10 people (or 27%) do not have broadband access. 

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