MAY 12, 2021 — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that applications for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program will be accepted beginning Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount on the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. The temporary benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.
“Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to get online throughout this pandemic. This is 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. I’m proud of the work we’ve done as an agency to get this program off the ground in record time,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
The $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands. The benefit also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.
A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
• Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
• Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
• Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
• Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
• Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
“Affordability is one barrier among the inequities that prevent numerous North Carolina residents and households from accessing high-speed, high-quality internet,” Jim Weaver, North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) secretary and state chief information officer, said. “This benefit can spur demand for building infrastructure to bring that service into areas of the state that have little or no access to broadband.”
The EBBP will end six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic is over or when the program uses all its $3.2 billion funding, whichever happens first. Providers must notify consumers at least 30 days before the discount ends and must let consumers opt-in to continue service before charging them a higher rate.
Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment opened on May 12, 2021. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application. Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. any day of the week, or you may send an email to EBBHelp@usac.org. Apply online at www.getemergencybroadband.org.
To help get high-speed internet service to even more North Carolinians, NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office is currently conducting a survey to gather better data on broadband availability and quality in the state. All North Carolinians are encouraged to take the five-minute survey by visiting www.ncbroadband.gov/survey or by calling 919-750-0553.