February 25, 2021 — The FCC unanimously voted for an immediate subsidy for low-income households to receive high-speed internet via a Report and Order [WC Docket No. 20-445] that adopting the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP). The program is a $3.2 billion federal initiative to reduce the digital divide especially as the pandemic continues to require virtual interactions. This new regulation will provide up to $50 a month to low-income households and up to $75 a month to households on tribal land for broadband service. The FCC’s subsidy will also provide a one-time subsidy of up to $100 towards the purchase of a computer or tablet. The FCC aims to roll-out this program within the next 60 days, but they must first coordinate the logistics, such as identifying internet service providers to participate in the EBBP and a system to register, approve, and track recipients of these funds. The digital divide is one of the most pressing issues of our time as at least 14.5 million Americans do not have broadband. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this gap, as many public and private services, including schools and healthcare, have limited to no offering of in-person alternatives. Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel hopes that this program “will help those at risk of digital disconnection.” Eligible recipients include, but are not limited to, families who have children that receive free or reduced school lunch, Pell grant recipients, and individuals who have lost jobs or had reduced income over the last year. [Source: FCC]
FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
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