Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) used to be a helpful program that helped many people access the internet and internet-connected devices. Having an internet connection helps students in their remote education, parents, to explore remote career opportunities, and all of us to learn new skills in order to stay competitive in today’s labor market. Although EBB has ended and changed to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), let’s see what EBB is and the many important things about this program.
What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit program?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program was a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that offers qualified low-income households a temporary reduction on monthly broadband expenses. If your household was eligible, you could receive:
- Up to a $50/month discount on your broadband service and associated equipment rentals.
- Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands.
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50).
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount were allowed per household. To receive the connected device discount, consumers needed to enroll in the EBB Program with a participating provider that offers connected devices (not all service providers offer device discounts). The service provider would provide a discount to the consumer.
Is The EBB Program Still Available?
To replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit Initiative, Congress launched Affordable Connectivity Program, a new $14 billion long-term program. This investment in broadband affordability would ensure that we can continue to afford the connections we require for work, school, health care, and other purposes for a long time.
Households enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program as of 31 December 2021, would continue to receive their current monthly benefit during a 60-day transition period.
What’s changing in ACP – “new EBB program”:
- The maximum monthly benefit will change from $50 to $30 per month for households not located on qualifying Tribal lands. The monthly benefit will remain at $75 for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
- Households have new ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program such as: receiving WIC benefits of having an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- People, in this case, will need to requalify for the Affordable Connectivity Program: Most households that qualified for the Emergency Broadband Benefit due to a substantial loss of income as a result of a job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020. Besides, those who meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s COVID-19 program also need to requalify.
- Benefit households would not have to take any action to continue receiving the new $30 monthly benefit after the transition period ends on March 1, 2022. Your service provider will contact you to let you know if you need to take any additional steps to continue receiving the ACP benefit.
- Households located on qualifying Tribal lands will continue to receive a $75 monthly benefit and will not need to take any action to continue receiving the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit.
Who Was Eligible for The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
Consumers’ EBB Program eligibility can be determined using the National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) by service providers. Service providers can also apply to the FCC for approval of their alternative verification procedure, which they can then use to determine whether or not a customer is eligible for the program. Additionally, provided service providers follow specific document preservation and certification criteria, they may depend on a school to verify customer eligibility under the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program.
There are several ways that your family can qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB).
If You Experienced a Substantial Loss of Income in 2020
If you experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, because you lost your job or were furloughed, you might qualify for the EBB Program. To qualify, your total household income in 2020 must be at or below $99,000 (for single tax filers) and $198,000 (for joint tax filers).
You would have to show proof of your total income, like a tax return or official documentation containing income information, and proof of the loss of income, like a termination letter or furlough notice, when you applied for the EBB Program.
A consumer might be eligible for EBB Program-supported service if they had a gross annual household income at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Consumers can also participate in the EBB Program if their household has experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020. Households that experienced a job loss or furlough and reported a 2020 household income at or less than $99,000 for single filers or $198,000 for joint filers are eligible to participate.
If Any Member of Your Household Meets One of These Requirements
- Qualifies for Lifeline benefits
- Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 (as mentioned above);
- Received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year;
- Received approval for 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;
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating internet service provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program, and that provider received FCC approval for its eligibility verification process.
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount were available per household. Program rules acknowledge there may be more than one eligible household residing at the same address.
Note: A household is a group of people who live together and share money (even if they are not related to each other). If you live together and share money, you are one household. In case that you either don’t live together or don’t share money, you are two or more households.
When You Use SNAP, Medicaid, or Other Programs
You could receive the Emergency Broadband Benefit if you (or someone in your household) participated in one of these federal assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA).
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program.
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at US Department of Agriculture Community Eligibility Provision schools.
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
You may need to show a card, letter, or official document as proof that you participate in one of these programs when you apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
Qualify Through Your Child or Dependent
Any member of your household could make your household eligible. For example, if your child or dependent participated in the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program, your household qualifies for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
Frequently Asked Question about Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
Here are some frequently asked questions about this program that you may need to know:
How can I continue to receive my Emergency Broadband Benefit discount?
You do not need to take any action to continue receiving your monthly discount in January and February. You will continue to receive your current monthly benefit until March 1, 2022.
Currently, my monthly bill is covered in full by the EBB, will the ACP cover my full monthly bill?
If your monthly service fee is less than $30 and you do not live in a qualified tribal territory, the Affordable Connectivity Program will pay it in full. If your monthly cost exceeds $30, you will be charged for the difference. Check with your provider to see if they offer any other plans covered in full by the new $30 benefit limit.
Under the Affordable Connectivity Program, the benefit amount for households on qualified tribal grounds will continue at $75 per month. The Affordable Connectivity Program benefit will continue to pay all monthly service fees up to $75.
Overall, the Emergency Broadband Benefit program (EBB) was formerly a useful program that assisted many individuals in getting online and using internet-connected gadgets. Although EBB has ended and changed to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), It has proven to be really effective. This program was also the premise for building up the ACP, a new program with the same goal of helping users access the internet.