When the pandemic hit, broadband access became crucial for keeping Americans safe and connected. Households relied heavily on home internet for online school, work, and medical appointments. The sudden shift highlighted the glaring inequality in home internet availability to underserved communities.
To address this issue, the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program was created. Established through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, EBB is a $3.2 billion federal program appropriated to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help low-income households pay for broadband service and connected internet devices. Through the FCC, the Universal Service Administrative Company manages the application process.
The EBB program makes internet affordable by providing:
- a monthly discount on broadband service of up to $50 per eligible household, or
- a monthly discount on broadband service of up to $75 per eligible Tribal household
- a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet
As of November 2021, EBB has helped get 7.6 million American households connected to the internet.
The program was supposed to be temporary and end when funds ran out or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the end of the COVID-19 health emergency. That changed when President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which transitions EBB to a permanent Affordable Connectivity Program.
More details about the EBB Program
Find a broadband provider taking part in the EBB program in your state.
Eligibility requirements include households that:
- Are low income (find out if you qualify based on your income)
- Participate in assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline
- Rely on free and reduced-price school meals
- Have received a federal Pell Grant during the current award year