Feds Are Giving Millions $50 Off Their Internet Bills

Emergency Broadband Benefit program was launched Wednesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 12, 2021 4:37 PM CDT
New Emergency Program Gives People $50 Off Internet Bills
In this Tuesday Aug. 4, 2020 photo, volunteer Wendy Dutler hands out computers during a drive-thru giveaway event in Dallas. emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

(Newser) – Americans can begin applying for $50 off their monthly Internet bill on Wednesday as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic. The $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program is part of the $900 billion December pandemic-relief package. The government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic made stark that millions of Americans did not have access to, and could not afford, broadband at a time when jobs, school, and health care was moving online, the AP reports. It's unclear how long the money will last but it's expected to be several months. Tens of millions of people are eligible, although the Federal Communications Commission, which is administering the program, did not specify a number.

For example, your household is eligible if you receive food stamps, have a child in the free or reduced-price school lunch program, use Medicaid, or lost income during the pandemic and made $99,000 or below for single filers, or $198,000 for joint filers. There are other eligibility requirements, too—see getemergencybroadband.org to find out if you qualify. You can get the discount even if you owe your phone or cable company money. There is also a $100 reimbursement for desktop computers, laptops, or tablets—in that case, you must pay between $10 and $50 of the cost of the device yourself and buy it through your broadband provider. The FCC on Tuesday approved a $7.2 billion program for schools and libraries to connect students in their homes. The Treasury Department is also setting up a $10 billion fund for improving Internet connectivity.

(Read more connectivity stories.)

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