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FCC’s broadband subsidies program set to start May 12

The program is intended to help Americans who can’t afford to pay for internet

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The FCC has announced that enrollment in its emergency broadband benefit program will begin May 12. 

The program gives eligible consumers discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands. A one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet will also be given to eligible households, the FCC said.

"As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider,” the FCC said. The agency added that consumers can also sign up for the subsidies at this website

In the announcement, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the program is intended to help close the digital divide. During the pandemic, a lack of internet access has been a barrier to opportunities for a number of Americans. 

“Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to get online throughout this pandemic, Rosenworcel said. “For those families, we now say help is around the corner.” 

The subsidies will pave the way for more Americans to “access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities,” she added. 

Helping disconnected Americans get online

Congress approved the subsidies back in December. Although it took several months to set up, the discount program is now set to roll out in less than two weeks. The program is open to: 

  • Households that participate in an existing low-income or pandemic relief program offered by a broadband provider; 

  • Lifeline subscribers, including those that are on Medicaid or accept SNAP benefits; 

  • Households with kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast; 

  • Pell grant recipients; and 

  • Those who have lost jobs and seen their income reduced in the last year.  

A list of ISP providers participating in the program can be viewed here. The FCC is also launching a "Companies Near Me" tool closer to the May 12 start date.

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