Program allows low-income Americans broadband access aid

Published 11:24 am Friday, May 14, 2021

A Kentucky-based national non-profit organization that promotes increasing broadband access for all is applauding the Federal Communications Commission for opening enrollment in a new program for low-income Americans on Wednesday.

The FCC has begun taking applications for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which provides discounted broadband internet and related services to qualifying households.

According to Connected Nation, located in Bowling Green, those eligible for the EBB program include, among others, anyone who experienced a substantial loss of income in 2020, those who currently receive or qualify for Lifeline benefits through SNAP and other federal programs, the free or reduced school lunch programs and households at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

“Millions of Americans are still struggling with everything from remote work to distance learning to telehealth simply because they lack the access to internet they need,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO of Connected Nation. “Those millions include our nation’s children, senior citizens, veterans and military spouses, the physically challenged, tribal and rural communities, and so many others. We believe this program will help address many of the digital inequities that persist—and are hopeful that this is only the beginning.”

The EBB program provides up to $50 per month discounts on service and associated equipment, up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands and a one-time discount on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer of up to $100 for qualifying low-income households. Internet service providers must opt-in to allow customers to take part in these discounts.

“As a national non-profit that has been working for 20 years to help close the Digital Divide, we believe this program is one step closer to helping our most vulnerable and at-risk populations access resources they need to improve their quality of life,” said Heather Gate, vice president, Digital Inclusion, Connected Nation. “But the work is not yet done. We must continue to strive for digital equity and digital inclusion for every American.”

For more details on who qualifies, how to apply for the benefits and which ISPs are taking part, you can visit https://connectednation.org/ebbprogram.