More than 6 million households enrolled in a coronavirus-related program that offers people a monthly discount on their internet bills, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced.
The latest update from the FCC shows that around 1 million households each month continue to sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). The EBB is a $3.2 billion program that offers eligible households a monthly subsidy to help pay for internet service.
The discount is $50 per household or $75 for Tribal lands. The benefit can also be used to help buy devices to get people online. Around 1,200 internet service providers (ISPs) have signed up to take part in the program.
Eligible households include those who already qualify for SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline, or if a child is on certain reduced-price school meal programs, among other things.
“The response to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program confirms what many of us knew to be true: too many families remain offline because it’s too expensive for their monthly budget,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Now, thanks to the Emergency Broadband Benefit, millions of kids can better keep up with their schoolwork, parents can train for their next jobs, and patients can stay in contact with their doctors. The FCC is not stopping until we reach as many eligible families so they too can get the support they need.”
The program was started in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which highlighted the country’s long-running digital divide, or the gap between people who have access and can afford internet service and those who don’t.
While the program launched last May, the massive infrastructure bill making its way through Congress would extend the program indefinitely. However, the bill would change the name of the program and would lower the monthly subsidy to $30 per household. That plan to lower the monthly discount has received some pushback.
The EBB was scheduled to end shortly after the pandemic or once the initial $3.2 billion that was allocated for it by Congress ran out. The infrastructure bill would set aside $14 billion to keep it going.
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