How to get a discount on your internet bill with emergency government program

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In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. Cybersecurity researchers say a coordinated cyberespionage campaign has targeted U.N. relief agencies, the International Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations groups for the past 10 months. The California cybersecurity outfit Lookout says the campaign, which uses phishing to harvest passwords from mobile phones and computers, is still active. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly left many families strapped for funds, and, as many were forced to work or learn from home, accessing affordable internet became a large struggle.

A new federal program, the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), aims to help lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Communications Commission is overseeing the program, which is now accepting applications.

“Broadband internet is vital for Utahns’ economic well-being, including participation in and access to online work, school, healthcare, and other essential services,” says Dan Hemmert, GOED’s executive director. “We know there are households that need to connect to the internet for essential services but can’t afford it. The Emergency Broadband Benefit will help to ensure every household in Utah has access to the benefits of online connection as we complete our pandemic recovery.”

The $3.2 billion program provides a discount of up to $50 a month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying tribal lands.

Officials say the program also provides benefits up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase through a participating broadband provider.

Are you eligible?

Eligible households must include a member that meets one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in specific assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or the FCC’s Lifeline program 
  • 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 through job loss or furlough since Feb. 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 
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
How to apply

The FCC says there are three ways for eligible households to apply:

  1. Contact your preferred participating broadband provider to learn about their application process
  2. Visit 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 copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to:

    Emergency Broadband Support Center
    P.O. Box 7081
    London, KY 40742
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For additional details about the program, visit FCC.gov/BroadbandBenefit.

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