Lose Your Job During COVID? The FCC May Have a Broadband Discount for You
If you lost your job during the pandemic, you may be eligible to receive a £50-per-month discount on your broadband plan. On Thursday, the FCC announced it's opening enrollment for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12. Sign-ups will be available on Getemergencybroadband.org or through an approved provider under the Lifeline program.
"In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities," said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. The subsidies will come from a £3.2 billion program Congress passed last year to help low-income consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefits include:
- Up to a £50-per-month discount on your home internet service and associated equipment rentals.
The discount can also be applied to bundles that include voice and texting. However, the subsidy can only be applied to an approved internet provider.
- Up to a £75-per-month discount on an internet plan if your household is on federally recognized Tribal lands.
- A one-time discount of up to £100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop PC at a participating provider. But you'll need to pay at least £10 to £49 toward the computer you choose.
Smartphones are not included.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is open to households already signed up for an existing low-income or pandemic relief program offered by a broadband provider. This includes people enrolled in the federally sponsored Lifeline program or on Medicaid.Credit: FCC
People who also lost a job or were furloughed during the pandemic starting on Feb.
29, 2020 can also apply. However, their household income during 2020 must have fallen below £99,000 for single filers and £198,000 for joint filers.
If you've been approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or a school breakfast program, you can also receive the discounts. The FCC's website has more information on eligibility. The broadband and computer discounts won't be handed out directly to consumers, though.
Instead, the FCC is distributing the subsidies to the providers as reimbursements, which will then be applied to your total bill.
The other restriction is how only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household. "The program will end once the program funds are exhausted, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic, whichever comes first," the FCC says.