What Is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
Your guide to the new internet discount program
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working on an exciting new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) to help students, low-income families, and others affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay for internet costs. Let’s dive in to the program, eligibility, and everything we know so far.
What is the EBBP?
Simply put, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is a discount internet program. It offers $50 discounts on internet service to most eligible participants and $75 discounts for those on tribal lands.
Another part of the program is a one-time discount up to $100 off the purchase of a computer or tablet as long as you pay $10–$50 toward the purchase price.
More technically, the EBBP is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which allocated $3.2 billion to subsidize internet costs during the pandemic for eligible households. This is a temporary program that will end once the pandemic is over.
Who is eligible for the EBBP?
There are several factors that can qualify you for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program:
- Eligibility for the Lifeline program
- Receipt of benefits from the free and reduced school lunch program, school breakfast program, or the USDA Community Eligibility Provision during the 2019–2020 school year
- Receipt of a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, resulting in a total 2020 income below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
- Eligibility for a participating internet provider’s own existing low-income or COVID-19 program
The Lifeline program is available to households that make less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or where at least one person benefits from the following federal assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Tribal programs (and live on tribal lands)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start (for households with qualifying income)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
If you qualify for Lifeline, you also are eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. You can also combine the Lifeline and EBBP discounts.
How do I sign up for the EBBP?
You can’t sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program quite yet. The FCC is still in the process of creating the program and hasn’t opened enrollment yet.
We do know that the program will be facilitated by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which also runs the Lifeline program. When the program is open, you’ll be able to enroll via USAC.
You can periodically check for updates on the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit page.
How will the EBBP work?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will be carried out by the USAC. It is going to leverage some of the existing infrastructure for the Lifeline program to check eligibility and communicate with internet service providers.
When the program is open, you can apply online through the USAC. You will choose a participating provider in your area and pay your discounted rate to that provider. The EBBP is not a rebate or reimbursement program, so the discount will be included in your internet price. The internet provider you choose can then make a claim to the EBBP for the $50–$75 per month.
When will the program start?
When the EBBP was established on February 25, 2021, the FCC hoped to get the program up and running within 60 days. So we can expect the program to roll out in late April. We’ll keep you updated here, and you can sign up for our email newsletter to get notified once the program is live.
How long will EBBP benefits last?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will be available to eligible households for up to six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the COVID-19 pandemic over. There is a $3.2 billion budget for the program, so if the funding runs out, the program may end early. If that happens, everyone using the program will be notified ahead of time so it’s not a surprise.
Author - Rebecca Lee Armstrong
Rebecca is a natural techie and the friend you turn to when your Wi-Fi randomly stops working. Since graduating from the University of Evansville with a degree in creative writing, Rebecca has leveraged her tech savvy to write hundreds of data-driven tech product and service reviews. In addition to HighSpeedInternet.com, her work has been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ and iMore.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.