New Emergency Broadband Benefit Program could assist nearly one-third of Idahoans
BOISE — Nearly one-third of Idahoans may be eligible to receive discounted broadband internet service through a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) may lower the cost for families and households to access broadband internet more affordably.
The $3.2 billion EBB Program launched May 12 for temporary financial assistance to households across the country. The benefit is up to $50 per month for service plans or up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible Idahoans may also receive a discount of $100 on equipment such as a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.
“This FCC program comes at a crucial time. Across the state there are financial challenges to Idahoans accessing affordable broadband internet so they can connect, learn and compete in the 21st century,” said Eric Forsch, broadband development manager at the Idaho Department of Commerce. “We have made significant inroads in leveraging federal broadband COVID-19 grants to help connect over 100 communities with essential virtual services and hope to help connect more Idahoans through the EBB Program.”
It is likely that many qualifying Idahoans may not be aware of this benefit or that they meet the requirements. Anyone meeting one of the following criteria is eligible:
• Household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
• Participants in federal assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline.
• Individuals who have lost their job or have been furloughed at any point between Feb. 29, 2020, and present.
• Students who are enrolled in a reduced school lunch program.
• Students at schools or school districts that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which provides free meals to all students.
• College students who have received a Federal Pell Grant this past year.
“With so many eligibility factors applying to both adults and children, we want to be sure all eligible Idaho families take advantage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit,” urged Idaho State Board of Education Chief Technology Officer Chris Campbell. “We encourage anyone with children in public school, who is unsure if they qualify, to visit the Emergency Broadband Benefit website to learn more.”
All eligible Idahoans are encouraged to apply now while funds are still available. The program ends when all funds are expended or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the COVID-19 health emergency is over.
There are three ways to apply for EBB Program:
1) Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. A full list of participating providers in Idaho can be found at fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers — Idaho.
2) Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
3) Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742