BUFFALO, N.Y. — If you are having trouble paying for internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a new program that could help you.
The FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit allows participating internet providers to provide a discount of up to $50 for those that meet the income requirements. Qualifying households that live on tribal land could receive up to $75 in discounts.
Here's how you can qualify to receive a discount:
- Have 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.
There are three ways to apply:
- You can contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
- Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online.
- Call 1-833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to:
Emergency Broadband Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742
Once you qualify, you can pick a participating provider and select the Emergency Broadband Benefit service plan.
For more information: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit
In April, New York Governor signed legislation that would require internet providers in New York State to provide internet service to low-income families in New York for $15/month.
Two weeks later, multiple associations, lobby groups, and their members filed a lawsuit to repeal the budget measure.
According to the lawsuit documents, the trade groups say "the broadband service that New York seeks to regulate has never been subject to rate regulation at the federal or state level."
The documents go on to say that ISP's understand the need to close the digital gap, but said the FCC and D.C. Circuit court "upheld and the federal Communications Act preclude New York from regulating broadband rates."