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Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program gives low-income households a discount on internet services so they don’t have to decide between purchasing broadband and other necessities as they work and learn at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, opened for enrollment on May 12, 2021.

Households may receive a discount of up to $50 a month for their internet bill. That rises to $75 a month for broadband service on tribal lands.

The following frequently asked questions offer helpful information on participation and outreach for consumers, community groups, and providers.

FAQs:

Where can I sign up for the EBB program?

Eligible households must both apply for the program and contact a participating provider to select a service plan. Once you receive a notice that you qualified for the program, households must contact the participating provider to select the eligible service plan. Learn more about the Emergency Broadband Benefit by visiting the Broadband Benefit Consume FAQ

 

There are three ways for eligible households to apply:

  1. Contact a participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. If you are unable to apply through them directly, you will have to apply using option 2 or 3 below, and then contact a participating provider to select an eligible plan.
  2. Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you. After you apply, you will have to contact a participating provider to select an eligible plan.

Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application or print a copy, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to the Emergency Broadband Support Center at P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742

What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help qualifying households that struggle to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This program will benefit families with challenges such as working from home, remote learning, telehealth services, or just connecting digitally with loved ones.

How much is the benefit?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50/mo. On qualifying broadband plans available.

Can more than one person in a household qualify?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount per household, which is defined as any individual or group of individuals who are living together at the same address and share income and expenses. To find out what qualifies as a household, please visit getemergencybroadband.org/do-i-qualify/what-is-a-household

 

Who is eligible for the EBB program?

 

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or 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.

Can I apply for th eEBB program if I have a past due balance?

Yes, eligible consumers with a past due balance or a balance in collections are eligible for the benefit.

How long will the EBB program last?

The EBB program is an emergency federal program that was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the funds are exhausted, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic, whichever comes first.

Can I receive both EBB and Lifeline benefits at the same time?

Yes. You can also combine these benefits with other state and local benefits where available. They can be applied to the same qualifying service or separately to a Lifeline service and an Emergency Broadband Benefit service with the same or different providers. For example, an eligible household could have a Lifeline-supported mobile phone service and a separate home broadband service that is supported through the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

What is Lifeline and how do I qualify?

Lifeline is the FCC’s program to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. To participate in the Lifeline program, consumers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs. You can see if you are eligible by reviewing the information available at lifelinesupport.org (click “Do I Qualify?”).

If I am already enrolled in the Lifeline program, will I automatically receive the Emergency Broadband Benefit?

No. You must opt-in with your existing provider or request enrollment in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program with a participating broadband provider and choose an eligible service plan. You can choose to receive the benefit from your current Lifeline service provider or another participating provider.

How will I know the EBB program is ending?

Wilkes Communications/RiverStreet Networks will advise about the late date or billing cycle that a partial benefit will apply to your bill, in addition to the information about the cost of your broadband service after the program ends.

 

  • The end of the program may not be timed to your billing cycle for service. This may result in you receiving less than the full monthly service discount in the final month of the program. If you received a partial benefit within the last month of the program, we must receive your permission before we can charge you an amount higher than what you would pay if the full Emergency Broadband Benefit is applied to your broadband bill. If you were receiving a $50 discount on your bill, but based on the available funds in the program, there is only enough to provide you with a $40 discount, we must have your permission to charge you the additional $10.

 

  • You will need to opt-in or request to continue broadband service with us. If you don’t opt-in or select a new service plan with Wilkes Communications/RiverStreet Networks, your broadband service will be disconnected once the program ends. Even if you had service with the same provider before enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, you will need to opt-in to continue broadband services after the program ends.

Information provided by NC Broadband and the FCC