How to Enroll in FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, as 1 Million Households Sign Up

More than a million American households enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in the first week following its launch, the federal body said Thursday.

Those eligible can enroll in the program by applying online at the EBB website, contacting their broadband provider or by mailing in a printed application form.

The program was introduced to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who may be struggling to pay for internet services. It offers low-income households a temporary discount of up to $75 a month on their broadband bills.

The benefit also includes a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer, with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50.

The FCC website says: "The program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner."

How to apply

Those interested in receiving the benefit can apply online at the EBB website (getemergencybroadband.org). The online application is available in English and Spanish.

Customers can also call their broadband provider directly to ask whether it is participating in the EBB program. Applicants can use an online locator tool at the EBB website to find a participating provider near them.

"Participating companies can help you apply through the National Verifier or through their company's application process," the EBB website advises.

Others can submit a paper application in either English or Spanish, which can be printed from the EBB website. Instructions for the application are available in nine other languages.

The completed application, along with proof of eligibility, should be mailed to the following address: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, Kentucky, 40742.

The EBB website says: "After you submit an application, we will share the results with you. If you apply online, you may receive an immediate approval.

"If we cannot prove your eligibility automatically, we will request additional documentation from you and provide information on how you can submit those documents for review."

Who is eligible?

The benefit is available to "eligible new, prior, and existing customers of participating providers," There are 900 broadband providers participating in the program and they are listed on the FCC website.

"The list will be updated as more providers join the program," the federal body said.

Only one monthly broadband service discount and one device discount is allowed per household.

To receive the device discount, recipients "need to enroll in the EBB Program with a participating provider that offers connected devices (not all service providers offer device discounts)," the EBB website says.

"If you live together and share money, you are one household. If you either don't live together or you don't share money, you are two or more households," it said. Check the EBB website for more information.

See if you qualify

To qualify for the benefit, a household must meet at least one of the following criteria, as outlined by the FCC:

  • Have an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Been approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Have 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
  • Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

See the EBB website for more information.

Mobile apps on an iPhone in France
Logos of different mobile apps displayed on the screen of an iPhone in Paris, France in February 2019. Over a million U.S. households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which offers eligible households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic a temporary discount on their monthly broadband bill. Chesnot/Getty Images