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Applications Open for FCC's Internet Discount Program: Here's Who's Eligible for $50 Off Their Monthly Bill

nbc chicago

May 12, 2021
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About this Deal

Americans can begin applying for $50 off their monthly internet bill on Wednesday as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic.

The $3.2 billion program is part of the $900 billion December pandemic-relief package. The government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic made stark that millions of Americans did not have access to, and could not afford, broadband at a time when jobs, school and health care was moving online.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It offers qualified households a temporary discount of up to $50 a month on internet bills.

People in tribal areas are eligible for up to $75 off their bill. There is also a $100 reimbursement for desktop computers, laptops or tablets — in that case, you must pay between $10 and $50 of the cost of the device yourself and buy it through your broadband provider.

The discount could apply to a household's whole bill, or you can use it to trade up to a more expensive offering and your bill is partly covered.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a more robust, although temporary, program to help people afford internet than Lifeline, the FCC's other affordability program, which subtracts only $9.25 a month from phone or internet bills. A household can use both the Lifeline and EBB programs.

Your household is eligible if you receive food stamps, have a child in the free or reduced-price school lunch program or use Medicaid

Any household with income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines is eligible, as are those who had a substantial loss of income since Feb. 29, 2020 or lost income during the pandemic and are at or below $99,000 for single filers, or $198,000 for joint filers.

You can get the discount even if you owe your phone or company money. That's important because some people have been barred from low-cost plans offered by internet service providers when they owed their service provider money. More than 800 cellphone and home-internet companies are participating, including AT&T, Charter, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon.

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