More than 1 million people have signed up for the Federal Communications Commission‘s (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit, a coronavirus pandemic-related program that offers monthly discounts to help people pay for broadband service.
People could start signing up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit last week. Since then, the FCC says, more than 1 million people have signed up.
The program allows for Americans who meet certain criteria to get a monthly discount of up to $50—or $75 for Tribal lands—to help pay for their internet access.
Congress allocated $3.2 billion for the program late last year, and the benefit will continue until that funding runs out or six months after the the federal government declares an end to the pandemic.
In order to qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, someone must show that their income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Level, be enrolled in SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline, have a child that is part of a free or reduced-price meal program in school, have received a Pell Grant, or lost their job because of the coronavirus pandemic and meets a certain threshold for their total income. The FCC set up a website for people to learn more about eligibility and to sign up.
Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said on Thursday that households in all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; the Virgin Islands; and American Samoa have enrolled in the program since it opened up to sign-ups last week.
“The high demand we’ve seen for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program demonstrates what many of us already knew to be true—too many families are struggling to get online, even in 2021,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Help is here. As an agency, we’re continuing to focus our efforts on reaching as many communities as possible, so they can get the support they need.”