The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.
Similar to the Lifeline program, the Emergency Broadband Benefit exists to ensure that individuals with low income can fully participate in civic life by connecting them with affordable internet service and access to devices, two of the principles of digital inclusion.
How can libraries help?
- Help get the word out to your patrons! This is a limited time benefit, so the sooner people apply, the better. The FCC has created a free downloadable multilingual Outreach toolkit complete with fact sheets, social media posts, flyers and more than can be used to spread the word.
- Coordinate with partner organizations to assist in reaching out to qualifying individuals.
- Become familiar with the offers available to your community so you’ll be able to connect people on a moment’s notice.
- Use the Do I Qualify? Page to determine eligibility for the program.
- Eligible households can then enroll through a participating Texas broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application
The Fine Print:
- The program will end as soon as funds run out or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency.
- Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household. Program rules acknowledge there may be more than one eligible household residing at the same address.
- For more information, the community can visit getemergencybroadband.org or call 833-511-0311. An application by mail can also be requested by calling the same number.
- Emergency Broadband Benefit Help (ebbhelp.org) – Simplified website explains what EBB is and how one can qualify (for the general public)
- NDIA Emergency Broadband Benefit resources – EBB resources from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, includes definitions, multi-lingual outreach materials, and more. (for digital inclusion practitioners, like library staff)