Broadband connectivity has been a must-have during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the Federal Communications Commission has a program to help you pay your monthly internet bill – at least for a few months.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a discount of up to $50 a month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 a month for households on qualifying tribal lands. And if you need a computer or tablet to connect to the internet, the program can give those eligible a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy one if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase.
Students could definitely benefit from the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) as there are up to an estimated 17 million who do not have the home internet connection needed to complete school assignments, says FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
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Signing up for COVID-19 vaccinations became a challenge for some without broadband, especially seniors.
While the Pew Research Center finds that 93% of American adults use the internet, only about 75% of those aged 65 and older say they do. That compares with 99% of those aged 18-29, according to Pew; in comparison, 97% of the 30-49 age group are connected, as are 96% of the 50-64 age group.
An estimated more than 22 million Americans 65 and older do not have broadband at home, found a recent Older Adults Technology Services report from AARP’s Aging Connected initiative, in partnership with the Humana Foundation.
You qualify if you already qualify for the Lifeline program, which helps low-income Americans purchase broadband access. You also qualify if you are on Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
For more information about qualifications due to household income and lost income due to COVID-19, read USA TODAY’s previous story.
The EBB is part of the roughly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in December 2020 and signed by President Donald Trump. It set aside $3.2 billion for the FCC to cover the program, which Federal Communications Commission to cover the program, which will end when the money runs out or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever comes first, the FCC says.
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Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, Terry Collins, Nathan Bomey, Brett Molina, Gabriela Miranda and Asha C. Gilbert
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.