From the Maine Department of Education…
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted a “Report and Order” that established the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, a $3.2 billion federal initiative to help lower the cost of high-speed internet for eligible households during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Benefits of the program include:
- Up to $50/month discount for broadband services;
- Up to $75/month discount for broadband services for households on Tribal lands; and
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.
- The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per eligible household.
A household is eligible if one member of the household:
- Qualifies for the Lifeline program, including those who are on Medicaid or receive SNAP benefits;
- Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019- 2020 school year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
The FCC expects the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to be open to eligible households before the end of April, 2021. Please check the FCC’s website regularly for the latest information. Once up and running, eligible households will be able to enroll through participating broadband providers or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
Many types of broadband providers can qualify to provide service in this program. The FCC is currently setting up the systems needed for providers to participate. Contact information for the providers participating in the program will be posted on USAC’s website.