Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

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The FCC just approved a $50 monthly credit to help get struggling Americans online

The program aims to help low-income Americans and those impacted by the pandemic.

Feb 26, 2021, 2:47 pm*

Tech

 

Andrew Wyrich

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved the final rules for an emergency program on Thursday that will allow people to receive a monthly discount to help pay for internet bills.

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The agency voted to establish the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which allocates $3.2 billion to help Americans pay for internet access amid the coronavirus pandemic. The program comes as the pandemic has shined a bright light on the country’s digital divide and lack of affordable broadband options.

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Specifically, the benefit will give eligible households a $50 monthly discount for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if they are on Tribal lands. It also allows for a one-time discount of up to $100 for people to purchase a computer or tablet.

The benefit is specifically for low-income homes in the U.S. or those who have lost income because of the pandemic. The program will be available for people who are already in a low-income or pandemic relief program offered by their broadband provider; who participate in the agency’s Lifeline program; are on Medicaid or accept SNAP benefits; have kids of receive free or reduced price lunch or school breakfasts; have received a Pell grant; or those who have lost their jobs or seen their income reduced because of the pandemic.

“This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection. It will help those sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch a Wi-Fi signal to go online for work. It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning. It will help those who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

Rosenworcel added that she expected the benefit would be available to eligible households within the next 60 days.

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The Emergency Broadband Benefit comes after Congress allocated the money late last year as part of a coronavirus relief bill.


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*First Published: Feb 26, 2021, 8:37 am