Currently, the whole world is running on the internet. From grocery shopping to space communication, everything we can do now using the internet. It is now proved that an internet connection is like an electricity connection or water line to our lives. American people are more dependent on the internet than any other nation as the country is leading from the top from every aspect of life. Dramatically, this Covid-19 has boosted the use of the internet and we saw how we did everything online being stuck by the shutdown. The only thing we could use to survive is the internet connection and gadgets like smartphones and computers. But many Americans were financially hit by the pandemic. Millions of American households have fallen on hard times.
According to research, about 4.7 million households have been struggling to afford telecoms bills and more than 1 million households have been cutting their food and cloth budgets to pay the internet bills. But the good part is that the Federal Government announced a $3.2 billion fund to pay the portion of the internet bills for a couple of months as well as the free smartphones and nearly free computers. The Federal Communications Commission effectually runs the benefits program named Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.
If you hesitating on how to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, then this article is going to help you. In this elaborative article, we will try to keep everything essential for you to recognize the program properly.
About EBB (Emergency Broadband Benefit) Program
In the EBB program, each household gets a temporary monthly credit toward the provider’s internet service for the duration of this program. Anyone can apply for this Emergency Broadband Benefit program but need to meet the eligibility criteria of the FCC (Federal communication commission). You will be eligible for the EBB program if you meet the low-income range specified by the federal government. EBB allows you a moderate discount offer on your household broadband internet line and you will receive a monthly credit of up to $50 as one applicant household. But in tribal lands, up to $75 per month is allowed for eligible customers.
In addition, you will get a $100 discount to buy the device laptop or tablet, or any other listed computers. This One-time device discount needs a consumer co-payment of between $10 to $50 as FCC wants a minimum contribution of the household. But not all providers provide discounts on gadgets. Only some of the providers provide discounted laptops or tablets as it’s not mandatory for the providers. Good thing is that you can have a smartphone for free being eligible for EBB. The discount rate depends on the device model and is applicable only once. FCC pays the bills to internet service providers to participate in the EBB as the broadband providers.
Since it’s a temporary initiative, you still have options to stop or continue the program once it ends. There are some general terms and conditions. Consumers who are eligible for the EBB and Lifeline programs can enjoy both programs. Service providers want you to apply for the Lifeline first then for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The benefits program will last for around six months to cover the pandemic struggling period. The EBB program is temporary and the Federal Government doesn’t have any fixed Expiration Date. FCC notified that the EBB will end immediately after the Department of Health Service declares that the emergency is over.
Nearly Nine hundred internet service providers are participating in EBB. To enroll with one of them in the EBB program check the FCC list https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers. You can find out which service provider is working in your area.
Eligibility Criteria For Apply EBB (Emergency Broadband Benefit) Program
According to FCC guidelines, there are some criteria points you need to meet to be eligible to get the EBB program. You may follow the National Verifier policy. This is the most basic policy to maintain when anyone wants to be eligible for the EBB Program. Since it’s a program to aid low-income people only, you can enroll based on your household’s income. But people who are already participating in the Government Assistance Lifeline program, are also eligible for this program. Households with program-based, income-based eligibility, and determining eligibility can qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Here we are mentioning some of the eligibility criteria:
If you have gone through unpaid leave or have lost your job due to this thorough shutdown, then you can enroll in the EBB Program. Here, according to FCC guidelines, people who got terminated forcefully or furloughed since February 29 of 2020, are eligible to apply. If you think you are eligible then apply with all the official documents regarding your job loss.
Membership of Lifeline and other Programs
The federal government already facilitates low-income households with financial aids through the Lifeline benefits program. FCC makes it easier for federal assistant program beneficiaries to be considered for the EBB program. Interestingly you will be eligible for the EBB program automatically only if you have a membership of the Lifeline program. It’s good to let you know that you can enjoy both programs simultaneously. It means if you are already enjoying Lifeline through a listed service provider, then it’s ok to add EBB with the same service provider. However, you also can enjoy the emergency broadband program and lifeline benefit from two different services.
Household’s Income range
If your income is under the federal poverty level, then you can apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. According to the FCC if the income of your household is less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, then you can register with your income statement. Let’s discuss a specific range of income that the guidelines say. For a single filer, it is yearly $99,000. It means if your yearly income is below $99,000, then you can consider yourself eligible for EBB. For joint filers, the yearly income should be less than $198,000. This range varies on state and number of family members.
Federal Program Beneficiary
You can proceed to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program if any of the members of your household already receives any of these program benefits:
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or Food Stamp
- FPHA (Federal Public Housing Assistance)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Pell Grant for the current award year.
- Free School Breakfast Program or Reduced-price School Lunch Program
- Some Tribal Benefit programs refer to the eligibility of the EBB program:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance.
- Tribal Head Start
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
How to apply for the EBB (Emergency Broadband Benefit) Program?
You should follow some steps during the application process for the EBB program. Here are the procedures:
Contact the broadband service provider
If you are a new internet user then first you have to choose the participant provider of EBB. Choose one of the broadband service providers who work with the FCC in the EBB Program. Contact one of them directly to learn the application process properly. There are so many internet service providers available, based on the state you live in. In most cases, companies work in multiple states. But it’s better to find out if your existing service provider offers EBB. Most of the famous broadband service providers support EBB.
Check the eligibility terms
Before going through the main application process, you must meet the eligibility criteria to apply for this process. The National Verifier will check your information and documents and will let you know whether you are eligible for this program or not. This verification process is executed and done by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Being a third party, the USAC goes through the national servers to check your documentation and if there is anything wrong. There are common eligibility terms that almost every provider follows. You will get to know your eligibility confirmation from the National Verifier within a few minutes.
After getting confirmation of your eligibility Visit “GetEmergencyBroadband.org” and find and select the providers near you. Next, you will need to fill out the online page with your name, date of birth, social security number, and other pieces of information. Besides the information, you must attach certain documents to claim your eligibility based on the criteria. Before going to the next step, make sure of the validity of each piece of information and then proceed to the further steps. Wait until getting approval, usually it takes 3 to 5 days for the verification and approval.
Apply via mail-in
Some people struggle to follow the application procedure online. Here you can also apply via the mail-in application. Call: 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application. They will send you an application copy. Download and print it. Fill it up with proper and correct information. Once you fill it, send it along with all the documents. Make sure to check the personal information carefully. After filling the form with the necessary information, submit it to this address.
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY, 40742
The approval will take a couple of days to process. If the provider finds you qualified then they will contact you and ask for your desired plans. They may ask for some additional information and documents. You can keep in communication with them via email. Stay connected with their social channels to be updated.
These are the solid procedures for getting the EBB if you are qualified. Besides, if you are not qualified then the provider will let you know. In that case, you have a chance to apply again with more accurate documents and information required by the FCC.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How much is monthly Credit?
Eligible customers can receive a monthly credit of up to $50 or $75 per month for tribal lands towards their monthly internet service. Few providers provide up to a $100 discount on buying a smartphone, pc, laptop, tablet, etc. to eligible households.The services can be bundled with voice and data services with the monthly plan, the equipment rental facility is also included.
What happens when the Emergency Broadband Program Ends?
The EBB program is temporary and the Federal Government doesn’t have any fixed Expiration Date. Once the EBB benefit ends, you will have the option to continue another plan with your provider. The internet providers are bundled with multiple plans that are specially designed for low-income people. The customer care of the provider will inform you about the best plan that can suit you.
How long does the monthly EBB credit last?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), this program will last for at least six months. As per the FCC timeline, the EBB will end immediately after the Secretary of Health declares that the emergency is over. The Internet provider will notify all its EBB customers 1 month before the termination of the EBB program.
How do I check the status of my application?
After completing your application successfully you can check the status of your application online by visiting https://getemergencyroadband.org/
How do people sign up?
If the household is already a Lifeline participant, then you do not need to apply with National Verifier for the emergency broadband benefit program. Just opt into a plan provided by the current internet provider.
Can I receive both the Lifeline and the EBB program at the same time?
Yes, the FCC guidelines allow households to get both the Lifeline and the EBB program simultaneously. But each eligible household can get only one EBB from a provider.
How do I know if the EBB program is available in my area or not?
The process is simple. To know whether your current broadband provider covers the EBB or not, just go to https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers. If you are new to broadband internet, then here you can find out the area-based EBB providers list and choose one of them. Or In this process, you can find out whether EBB is available in your area or not.
What does one per household mean?
One EBB is allowed for one household, not for each person. A household means an individual or group of members who live together at the same address as one economic unit. Those individuals share the expenses and income both. So the whole household can apply as a unit and get one benefit only.
Since the pandemic, we have been dealing with every work and service online. We were keeping ourselves captive inside our houses throughout the emergency. It made the families become mostly dependent on the internet. Which have been making them face a struggle to arrange as they experienced a job loss or income loss. The low-income Americans had concerns over the digital divide as they have been facing hardships to pay the essential bills like the internet. But this $50 monthly payment toward the cost has been a great blessing for these specific households with lower incomes. Now the members of these households don’t have to struggle to attend online classrooms, consult physicians or work online. With free smartphones and nearly free tablets or laptops, it is now easy and affordable for them to fulfill their digital needs.