The 2021 Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Breakdown

by | Apr 5, 2021 | CBO, Digitally Underserved, FCC, Internet Access

mohuman and collaborators have urged Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide emergency financial help to low-income families and individuals to secure internet access for distance learning, telework, and telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are providing this information to help our Community Based Organization (CBO) friends navigate the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) to help our digitally underserved residents get connected to the internet.

The EBB program was enacted on February 26, 2021 by the FCC and provides $3.2 billion for qualifying households for:

1. A discount from $10 to $50 a month for broadband internet service

2. And up to $100 for an internet-enabled device.

The FCC pays this money to a participating internet service provider and not to the household.

Which households are eligible for the EBB discount?

At least one household member must meet the following criteria:

  • Qualifies for the federal Lifeline program for discounted phone service
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single tax filers and $198,000 for joint filers
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating internet service providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

How long does the EBB discount last?

This program is temporary and is administered by the FCC though the Service Administrative Company (USAC) until the $3.2 billion is used up or six months after the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends. Before the program ends, participants must opt-in to continue internet service without the discount or transition to a new service.

Which internet service provider in my community is participating?

Check this FCC list to see if the internet provider(s) in your area is participating in the EBB.

If you need to find out which internet service provider(s) serves your area,  use Everyoneon. 

When can people sign up?

EBB signup for consumers begins on 12 May 2021.

How do people sign up?

If a household is already a Lifeline participant, they will not need to apply for the EBB. They will only need to opt-in to a plan provided by their current internet provider or request enrolment in the program.

If a household is not a participant in the Lifeline program, they must apply for the EBB though the National Lifeline Verifier. They will need to provide their full name, date of birth, address and one of these identification documents: Social Security Number, Government-issued ID, Passport, Driver’s License, Taxpayer Identification Number, or Tribal identification number.

Things to watch out for

CBOs should communicate actively with residents, area ISPs, employers, and school districts to help ensure that households choose internet service and devices that meet their needs for school, work, or telehealth services. Let residents know to prepare for signup before May 2021.

1. Internet Speed

There are no minimum device standards or broadband internet service speeds required for eligibility of internet service providers to participate in the EBB program. The FCC currently defines broadband speed as 25Mbps/3Mbps (25 Megabits per second download speed/3 Megabits per second upload speed). We advocate for higher speeds especially for households with more than one person using the internet at the same time.

2. Devices

The EBB monthly $50 benefit off the price of broadband internet service also includes equipment such as leased antennas or routers. This excludes optional add-ons such as wi-fi extenders or repeaters.

The EBB one-time $100 benefit off a single connected device per household can include a laptop computer, desktop computer or tablet from a participating EBB provider. The household must pay a co-pay of between $10 and $50. This excludes smartphones or tablets that can make cellular calls.

3. Bundled Offers

The EBB benefit is not eligible for bundled offerings that include video service, but it is eligible for bundles that include voice or text.

4. Debt

Participation by any household member in the Lifeline program and the existence of any debt to a broadband internet service provider do not impact eligibility. Households may receive the Lifeline benefit and the EBB simultaneously.

5. Termination of Service

Participating internet service providers must certify that eligible households may not be charged an early termination fee if they cancel their service while receiving the EBB discount.

6. End of the EBB Program

There are concerns about the program ending and transitioning people out of the EBB program to higher bills. The FCC and USAC are committed to providing regular assessments and updates on the fund’s usage and predict when the fund will be exhausted. We have heard that a publicly available tracker will forecast when claims can no longer be fully paid about 75-90 days from the end of the EBB program.

Internet service providers must notify and gain consent from consumers at sign-up that the benefit is temporary and that consumers will be subject to regular terms and conditions at the EBB’s end.

Providers will also be required to notify consumers on bills or other monthly communication of the end date or last service month for the benefit. They will also have to share the new service cost without the EBB at least 30 days before a billing change. Subscribers must opt-in to either continue the same service without the discount or transition to a new service.

We will keep you updated as soon as we know more of the end date.

7. Complaints

Internet service providers are not required to provide notice to consumers on how to file complaints, so CBOs should provide information to residents about the FCC’s complaint hotline at 1-888-225-5322 or the online complaint filing system.

Please share with city and municipal governments, housing agencies, schools, food banks, faith-based organizations, clinics, and other organizations providing services to low-income residents to ensure that they have timely, useful information about the EBB.

This information may change as the FCC provides more guidance. We will be on top of any changes and when and how to enroll. We will also update everyone about the end of the EBB Program (or continuation) as soon as the FCC releases that information.

To get timely updates, subscribe to our newsletter today right here.

22 Comments

  1. De

    Which or where can u get the tablets/ laptops from?…walmart ok? Or only certain stores.?

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi De,

      Thanks for your question. I recommend using Everyone On to check if the computer benefits are available in your area: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers
      The one-time $100 benefit for the laptop or tablet should qualify at most stores, but we found this website useful for other FAQs pertaining to EBB: https://www.ebbhelp.org/

      Reply
    • G Man

      I have looked everywhere and no dice. The amount of the time and energy I wasted on finding a provider would have paid for itself by now. You are better off on eBay finding an used one for $200

      Reply
    • Georgian Helmick

      I can get tablet an phone wireless hotspot at Walmart got approve how.do I get.itn

      Reply
  2. Matthew Colvin

    Called AT&T, they said only 6mbps was available in my area (Dayton, Ohio). Do you have any idea why that is? I didn’t apply for the computer benefit. Can I still do that now.

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi Matthew, I’m not sure why they said only 6mbps are available. The FCC defines broadband speed at 25mbps. I checked in your area about the computer benefit and you can find the list of internet service providers that are participating in that part of the benefit here: https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers#Ohio
      Unfortunately, it looks like AT&T is not one of them. You can enter your zip code using this link to see what is available specifically in your area: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers
      Please let us know what else we can do to help.

      Reply
  3. Teresa

    I have lifeline phone service and recvd a text about EBB. Even though I recv free service for my lifeline I enrolled in the ebb program. A couple days later I recvd an email from my home internet provider about ebb program, so I applied for it with them also. About a day or two later I recvd an email telling me that I was denied for ebb for my internet service because I was already enrolled in ebb with another provider. It says I can de-enroll with that provider then re-apply with my internet provider. My question is, how do I go about dis-enrolling from the ebb program for my lifeline service?Also am I correct that I can only use the ebb program per provider per household?

    Reply
  4. Brandy

    I applied for the ebb benefit our internet is in my boyfriend’s name but we live together they said it was fine at Windstream I’m not sure how to fill it out because I was excepted not him and there no place to put our account number on the Windstream link to put in my confirmation number that I was approved it’s been at least a month and a half our bill is almost three months behind I need help getting my benifit thanks

    Reply
  5. Christine

    Hi,
    Can I sign up for both internet and cell company? Or is it one or the other?

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi Christine! Thanks for your question. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is only available for in-home internet services at this time.

      Reply
  6. KEN ASUNCION

    I have been looking for places that participate in pc ebb program to buy a pc and the only place was pc for people but only has 1 type you can buy. Do you know any other companies to purchase a pc.

    THANKS,
    KEN

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi Ken, thanks for your question! The EBB one-time $100 benefit off a single connected device per household can include a laptop computer, desktop computer or tablet from a participating EBB provider. The household must pay a co-pay of between $10 and $50. This excludes smartphones or tablets that can make cellular calls. Walmart is also providing device support depending on location. I suggest looking into this here: ebbhelp.org

      Reply
      • ken

        Thank You I will look into it

        Reply
  7. AJ

    I’ve applied to the program three months ago and every time I call the providers they say wait just a few more days, is there a timeline after applying to get the phone and the tablet?

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi AJ, I’m so sorry you’ve been having trouble contacting the providers and receiving a clear answer. I’m not sure about a direct timeline, but you can find a recently updated (posted just 5 days ago) FAQ here: https://www.fcc.gov/consumer-faq-emergency-broadband-benefit

      You may want to contact your provider to make sure that all information is accurate and that your application went through as well. Best of luck!

      Reply
  8. Hildegarde

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest
    twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience
    with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward
    to your new updates.

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi Hildegarde, thanks for your comment. We use WordPress for our site and have found it to be very useful. Best of luck with your blog!

      Reply
  9. Davis

    Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a
    quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the
    same subjects? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Krista Cantrell

      Hi Davis, sorry for the delay. Thanks for being a part of the mo’ movement and your interest in learning more about Digital Resilience. We are big fans of The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society (https://www.benton.org/), The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (https://www.digitalinclusion.org/), and Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/) Those organizations are a good place to start! Hope this helps.

      Reply

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