On Thursday, the FCC announced that it would open registration for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12. Registrations are possible on Getemergencybroadband.org or through an approved provider as part of the Lifeline program.
“In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for separated Americans to access the Internet to go about their daily lives, so they can reach the virtual classroom, use telemedicine, and look for new employment opportunities. Said the acting chairman of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel.
The $ 3.2 billion emergency relief program offers low-income households up to $ 50 per month and Native American households up to $ 75 per month to pay for broadband service. The FCC gives poor households a one-time discount of up to $ 100 on the purchase of a computer or tablet.
The FCC moved quickly to get the program up and running. The agency voted unanimously in February to approve the plan to manage the program. Earlier this month it was announced that more than 300 landline and mobile operators have been approved to participate in the EBB program. Large providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Windstream Communications were part of the first group to be approved for the program.
According to Verizon, the program is available to new and existing customers of Fios, 5G Home Internet, LTE Home Internet, Mobile Mix & Match Unlimited, or Mobile Hotspot. Verizon said customers can also receive the subsidy through Fios Forward, a program that helps eligible households save $ 20 a month on high-speed fiber optic Internet service at home.
If customers already qualify for the FCC’s Lifeline grants program, or if they qualify for other federal programs like the National School Lunch Program or Pell Grant College grants program, or if they lost a job or had significant income losses during the pandemic, they could qualify for the program. Visit getemergencybroadband.org to confirm eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program discount.
AT&T also announced that customers of its AT&T and Cricket Wireless services could receive the temporary subsidy, which could significantly reduce the cost of their Internet service. For example, qualifying new and existing customers for an AT&T Internet plan at speeds of up to 300 Mbps would cost $ 5 a month or less, the company said in a press release.
All of this is because the Biden government is pushing its more than $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes $ 100 billion in funding to bridge the digital divide. The Biden Plan not only provides for the infrastructure to be brought to areas of the country that are not or underserved, but also calls for more digital equity. The president has made a strong statement that the federal government will not subsidize broadband services forever and that more affordable deals need to be made available to Americans who do not have enough to pay for the services.
Although the plan has not yet been concretized and defined, broadband providers are already pushing for important aspects such as prioritizing federal spending on state or non-profit networks. The cable industry in particular rejects federal support for companies that provide a “future-proof” infrastructure, which, in the opinion of many industry representatives, is a disguised indication of the preference given to companies that build fiber optic infrastructures. And all major providers reject any suggestion of possible price regulation for broadband.