The move comes after the pandemic further exposed technological inequalities.
The FCC voted unanimously Thursday to establish the $ 3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which aims to provide qualifying households with discounts on their internet bills. It will also provide some households the opportunity to receive a computer or tablet at a discount.
Acting President Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC has “made history” by creating the rules “for the largest program in history to help households across the country pay for broadband service.”
“It will help those who are sitting in cars in parking lots only to pick up a Wi-Fi signal to connect to the Internet for work. It will help those who are left outside the library with a laptop only to get a wireless signal for the remote learning. who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries, “he added in a statement. “In short, this program can make a significant difference in the lives of people across the country.”
The program offers discounts of up to $ 50 a month for broadband service and up to $ 75 a month if the home is on tribal lands. Additionally, it will establish a one-time discount of up to $ 100 for eligible household computers or tablets.
Eligible households include those with children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches or breakfasts, Pell Grant recipients and those who have lost their jobs or reduced their income in the past year, according to the FCC. Additionally, the program is open to households participating in an existing pandemic or low-income assistance program offered by a broadband provider, as well as current subscribers to the FCC Lifeline communications support program. affordable.
The FCC said it intends to open the program to those who need it within 60 days. More information on how to apply should be available on the FCC website in the coming weeks.
“I am confident in our staff that we will do this carefully, quickly and in the right way,” Rosenworcel said.