Nearly a third of Idahoans could be eligible for Emergency Broadband Benefit program

Posted at 3:03 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 17:03:39-04

A new program through the Federal Communications Commission could make nearly one-third of Idahoans eligible for discounted broadband internet service.

The new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) could lower the cost of broadband internet for more households, according to Idaho Commerce. The $3.2 billion program launched in May to allow temporary assistance to families nationwide. Benefits include up to $50 per month for service plans or up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible Idahoans may also receive a discount of $100 on equipment such as a laptop, desktop computer or tablet, according to Idaho Commerce.

“This FCC program comes at a crucial time. Across the state there are financial challenges to Idahoans accessing affordable broadband internet so they can connect, learn and compete in the 21st century,” said Eric Forsch, broadband development manager at the Idaho Department of Commerce, in a statement. “We have made significant inroads in leveraging federal broadband COVID-19 grants to help connect over 100 communities with essential virtual services and hope to help connect more Idahoans through the EBB Program.”

Eligibility guidelines for the program include:

  • Household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Participants in federal assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline
  • Individuals who have lost their job or have been furloughed at any point between February 29, 2020, and present
  • Students who are enrolled in a reduced school lunch program
  • Students at schools or school districts that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which provides free meals to all students
  • College students who have received a Federal Pell Grant this past year

To apply for the program, check to see the full list of participating providers, apply online, or call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081 in London, KY 40742.