On Thursday, The Federal Communications Commission approved regulations for a broadband subsidy program that could help families who have struggled during the pandemic afford internet service.
This $3.2 billion emergency benefit program gives eligible low-income households a $50/month credit on their internet bills through their desired provider until the “end” of the pandemic. Certain areas may be eligible for up to $75/month and in some cases provides eligible households up to $100 in credit towards a computer or tablet.
This program was established to help combat the digital divide amongst Americans. This has become overwhelmingly apparent over the last years and millions of Americans and companies have had to make the move to working remotely due to Covid-19.
According to the FCC, there could be as many as 21 million people in the United States that do not have access to high-speed internet. Critics say that this figure is likely much higher than reported.
According to Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC’s acting chairwoman, signups for the emergency broadband benefit program could take place within the next 60 days. The FCC is still working to secure final systems needed to work with internet providers to roll this out.
“This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “It will help those sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch a Wi-Fi signal to go online for work. It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning. It will help those who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries.”