Home / Business / The FCC will begin the $ 50 broadband subsidy program on May 12.

The FCC will begin the $ 50 broadband subsidy program on May 12.



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FCC Acting President Jessica Rosen Vorsel has set a date to begin the agency’s emergency broadband benefits program.

Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call

Americans affected by The coronavirus outbreak Anyone needing help paying for a broadband service will get help soon. The promised $ 50 per month broadband subsidy, as part of the COVID-19 relief package delivered by Congress in December, will be offered to low-income earners starting in two weeks.

The Federal Communication Commission said Thursday that households would be able to begin applying for emergency broadband benefits on May 12.

The $ 3.2 billion emergency relief program provides up to $ 50 per month to low-income households and up to $ 75 per month to Native American land-based households to pay for broadband services. It offers a one-time discount to poor households of up to $ 100 to buy a computer or tablet.

Congress dictates that the money will be available to households at 135 percent poverty levels or above, those eligible for free lunch and reduced school meals, or those who lose a lot of their income from the 29th. February 2020

“Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to stay online throughout this outbreak, for those families we now say help is within reach,” FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenwarzel said in a statement. “In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for Americans who are disconnected to access the Internet to live their day-to-day lives so they can access a virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek employment opportunities.” New “

Digital divide

The FCC estimates that at least 14.5 million homes do not have broadband access. Outbreak Shining a light on the inequality Between people with and without broadband access For millions of Americans, the digital divide has arisen as they live in rural areas of the country without broadband infrastructure. For other families in rural and suburban markets, broadband service may be available. But inexpensive During the epidemic, students without internet access were unable to attend. And adults who can’t get into work cannot work remotely.

Policymakers have been trying to tackle the digital divide for years. This is despite billions of dollars spent each year to subsidize new infrastructure costs and to offset the cost of services for poor Americans. But the problem still exists It hasn’t helped that the FCC has solved these problems for years, using a map that doesn’t accurately state where broadband service is and where it’s not.

Congress and the FCC admitted that the broadband mapping problem had to be addressed. At the February meeting of the FCC Rosenworcel. Launch troops To comply with Congress’ directive to update the FCC’s broadband map.

The FCC was quick to get the program started. It voted unanimously in February to approve. Program management plan Earlier this month, it was announced that more than 300 Internet, fixed and mobile operators have been approved to participate in the EBB program, with major carriers such as AT&T, Comcast and Windstream Communications. It is part of the initiation group that is approved for the program.

What the carrier is doing

After the FCC’s announcement on Thursday, AT&T and Verizon offered additional details on Friday about how they will manage the program.

Verizon said the program is available to Fios customers, new and existing 5G Home Internet, LTE Home Internet, Mobile Mix & Match Unlimited, or Mobile Hotspot customers. Verizon said customers using Fios Forward, a program that empowers households with The privilege of saving $ 20 per month for home broadband internet service will also receive a subsidy.

If clients qualify for the FCC Lifeline Subsidy Program, or if they qualify for other federal programs such as the National School Lunch Program, the Pell Grant College Funding Program, or they lose their job or lose their income. Very much during the outbreak Eligible for the program To verify your eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program discount, please visit getemergencybroadband.org

AT&T also announced that customers of AT&T and Cricket Wireless services can receive a temporary subsidy, which will significantly reduce the cost of internet services. For example, recruiting new and existing customers on an AT&T internet plan with speeds of up to 300Mbps would pay $ 5 a month or less, the company said in a press release.

“The outbreak has proven that all Americans need a reliable broadband connection for everything from applying for jobs to work at home to attending school,” said AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh. Said in a statement “We are keen to step up and work with the federal government to provide relief to our customers while helping to connect Digital Divide.”

AT&T said the EBB benefits could be applied to “Choose a Wired and Broadband Service” for new and existing customers. These select plans include AT&T Fiber’s 1 GIG (Internet 1000) plan.AT & T wireless customers will be able to use the subsidy for AT&T Unlimited Your Way, Unlimited Starter, Extra, and Elite plans, all with 5G access. Select AT&T plans. Prepaid and cricket plans will also be eligible for the program, but AT&T did not specify a plan. Details will be available soon at att.com/EBB, the company said.

Apart from the subsidy

AT&T and Verizon both say they are committed to helping close the digital divide.AT & T offers access from the AT&T program offering qualified household wired internet at a discount. It will invest $ 2 billion over the next three years through offering low-cost broadband services and community investment to help close the digital divide.

Verizon said it plans to invest $ 3 billion over the next five years in what it calls it. “Responsible business investment” including affordable broadband

“Responsible business is not merit. But it has to be part of a core strategy, ”Verizon President and CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement. “We are committed to creating sustainable solutions for our key stakeholders and driving access to mobile, broadband and cloud services for everyone.”

Building on that effort, Verizon announced Friday its plans to help bring digital skills training to rural communities.The company is partnering with the National 4-H Council to offer digital skills training to adults in the community. Rural, focusing only on people of color Working with nine former Black colleges and universities, all land-granting institutions, the program will provide community teens with information to provide training that is expected to provide 15,000 adults with the basic digital skills needed for the job. Education, Banking and Healthcare by the end of the year.This initiative is part of Verizon’s efforts to support digital inclusion in rural communities.

Political pressure

It all comes down to the management of Biden. Drive more than $ 2 trillion in infrastructure plans. That includes $ 100 billion in funding to help bridge the digital divide. In addition to building infrastructure to areas of the country that are not serviced or unprotected, the Biden Plan calls for greater digital equality. The president has specifically said that the federal government will not subsidize broadband services forever and that it needs to offer very affordable deals to Americans who don’t have enough money to pay for the service.

Although the plan has not yet been set and scheduled. But so are broadband providers. Has pushed back important issuesSuch as the federal spending priorities on government-run or not-for-profit networks. The cable industry, in particular, opposes federal support for companies installing infrastructure that “Future-proof”, which many in the industry believe is an undercover reference to support companies building fiber infrastructure. And all the major carriers oppose possible price controls on broadband.

Biden announced Wednesday that he has appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to be responsible for the digital divide. Biden’s choice to have Harris in charge. It’s a sign the White House sees broadband as a top priority.


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