The past year, a lot of people were laid off or otherwise unable to pay for basic necessities. So the stimulus package passed by Congress in December included a provision to pay for broadband and other basic tech for those who, because of job loss or other financial difficulties, can’t afford to pay for it on their own. And starting this week, if you qualify, you can take advantage of it.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is being administered by the FCC and offers a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills — up to $50 a month (or $75 if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands). If your income qualifies, you can also get a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or a tablet.
It’s not a lot, considering how much tech costs these days, but every little bit helps. And applications for that discount will be available starting today, May 12th.
There are a variety of ways you can qualify for the program. Qualifications can include your income level (at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty level), participation in a program such as SNAP or Medicaid, job loss due to the pandemic, or other criteria. You can get more information by either visiting the FCC website or by going to getemergencybroadband.org
If you think you qualify, you can either apply online, contact your current broadband provider to see if they are participating in the program (or check this list for a provider near you), or print out and complete an application and send it to:
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742.
One warning: if you think you may qualify, don’t put off sending in the application. This is a temporary program, and you lose your benefit when the fund runs out of money, or “six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency” — whichever is sooner.
Update May 12th, 2021, 9:50AM ET: Updated to reflect the fact that applications are available as of today.