What the Tech? Do You Qualify for a Discount on Your Monthly Internet Bill?

Enrollment in the FCC’s largest-ever benefits program for broadband internet is underway. The Emergency Broadband Benefits program is a federal initiative to provide qualifying households discounts on their monthly internet bill.

Those who are eligible will receive a discount of $50 per month on their internet service and up to $100 on a laptop or tablet.

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told me, the $3.2 billion program is in response to the struggles families have had dealing with income loss along with the need for high-speed internet service.

“I think this pandemic has taught us all that access to broadband no longer is just nice to have; it’s a “need to have” for everyone, everywhere,” she said from her office in Washington, DC. “As a nation, we have hunkered down and masked up and we’ve gone online for so much of day-to-day life. I think that the last year has taught us and certainly taught the FCC that getting everyone connected needs to be a priority.”

Eligibility requirements are fairly broad. Anyone who has suffered a significant loss of income since March of 2020 qualifies provided their income is $99,000 or less per year. Households qualify if their total income is $198,000 or less.

“This is the nation’s largest-ever broadband affordability program,” Rosenworcel said. “Lots of households have been struggling during this time and they’ve been worried about whether or not they can keep the internet up and also keep food on the table. Keeping the internet is not a small thing. It’s how so many kids are going to class, how people are keeping up with their healthcare appointments. It’s how they’re signing up for vaccines. It’s really important,” Rosenworcel said.

To find out if you are eligible, visit the website www.getemergencybroadband.org. Those who qualify will see the discount on their next internet bill depending on when the provider issues statements.

Rosenworcel said she hopes this is one of the first steps to ensure every American has access to high-speed internet. “What I hope we can do now is study who we were able to reach with this program and what difference we were able to make and then use that data to inform where we go next. Because I do think we’re going to need a long-term effort in this country to get
everyone online and affordability is a part of it.”

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