On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the proposal to allocate $3.2 billion in emergency aid to low-income families and individuals who lost jobs or had their income cut as a result of the pandemic.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide access to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms for eligible households.
The Program will provide up to $50 per month to low-income households and up to $75 per month to households in Native American land for broadband services.
The FCC will also provide poor households with a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet.
The program will be made available to eligible households within 60 days, said Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC. The agency is still looking for broadband providers to administer and accept the discounts.
“This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “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.”
A household is eligible if one of its members meets the following criteria:
- Qualifies for the Lifeline program;
- Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.