May 12, 2021 - Technology

New $3.2 billion internet discount program opens for consumers

Illustration of a router made out of stack of money
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Consumers in low-income households can sign up for $50 off their internet service as part of a new federal program starting Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Emergency Broadband Benefit program is meant to help families afford high-speed internet connections needed for school and work.

Details: The $3.2 billion program provides up to $50 off a month for internet service or $75 off for households on Tribal lands.

  • The money will also cover a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.
  • The monthly discount is applied directly to the consumer's bill, with 825 broadband providers participating in the program.

What's next: Eligible households can sign up by contacting their provider or going to www.getemergencybroadband.org.

  • Eligibility includes people who are at or below 135% of the federal poverty level or those participating in assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline, relying on free or reduced price school meals or have received a federal Pell Grant.
  • People who lost income during the pandemic due to job loss or furlough also are eligible.

What to watch: How long the temporary program will last is unclear, as it will end when the money runs out.

  • Federal Communications Commission officials said providers will notify their customers at least 30 days before the funding runs out, and will get their consent before continuing service at a market rate.
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