Steelville Telephone Exchange is one of more than 825 broadband providers across the nation participating in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP). During the COVID-19 pandemic, this program will make available up to $3.2 billion worth of consumer discounts on broadband services and equipment like computers and tablets. The program kicked off on May 12.
This a temporary program developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during this time. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and more. EBBP will end once the program funds are exhausted, or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic, whichever comes first.
“This program will have a tremendous, positive impact on so many American households. It’s an investment in American families and a vote of confidence in the economic power of getting us all online,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC. “High-speed internet service is vital for families to take advantage of today’s health, education, and workplace opportunities. And the discount for laptops and desktop computers will continue to have positive impact even after this temporary discount program wraps up.”
This program will make substantial discounts on broadband service and computers available to consumers. Eligible households will be able to receive a discount of up to $50 per month on their broadband bill ($75 on qualifying Tribal lands). They will also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Households can qualify through their use of existing assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline or if a child relies on reduced-price school meals programs. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is also available to households who are eligible for a broadband provider’s existing relief program, to those who have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year, and to those low-income households who suffered a large loss in income during the pandemic due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020.
The benefit is available to eligible new, prior, and existing customers of participating providers. Customers can sign up by contacting a participating provider, enroll online at https://getemergencybroadband.org/, or sign up via mail. To learn more or get a mail-in application, call (833) 511-0311 or contact STE at 573-775-2111. There is also more information on STE’s Facebook page.
Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
•Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
•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 due to job loss or furlough since February 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; or
•Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.