Thursday, 13 May 2021 13:37

Congressman Tonko Announces Launch of Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Photo: getemergencybroadband.org Photo: getemergencybroadband.org

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Congressman Paul Tonko announced this week that the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program has officially launched, and he is encouraging constituents to check if they are eligible to receive a discount on their monthly internet bill through the program. 

The new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will help millions of lower-income Americans afford their monthly internet bill. Congress created the $3.2 billion program as part of the last omnibus appropriations bill in December. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed that open enrollment in the program began May 12. This broadband safety net program will provide between $50 and $75 off the monthly cost of home internet service for families in need, and may also provide an additional subsidy for a computer. Internet providers who participate in the program can apply to the FCC for reimbursement.

According to the FCC, a household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the following 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 provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

“With more of us working, learning and connecting with friends and loved ones remotely than ever before, every American family needs to be able to access reliable, affordable broadband internet. That’s why I have worked for years to improve and expand internet access, including writing and delivering my Access Broadband Act into law and helping lead the charge to create this new and vital broadband link in America’s safety net,” said Tonko, a Democrat whose district includes a large portion of Saratoga Springs. 

Households interested in learning whether they qualify are encouraged to visit the FCC’s new enrollment website at: getemergencybroadband.org and then sign up through their internet service provider. 

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