We live in a world where having access to the internet has become necessary. The Internet has changed education, business, assistive technology and even the ways in which we interact with our loved ones. Having access to the internet has become crucial for many, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With internet prices on the rise and people struggling financially due to COVID-19, many people have had a challenging time paying their internet bill. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) has offered a temporary discount to help people with their internet bill during the pandemic.
The EBB program is a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) program that is providing a temporary monthly discount for qualifying low-income households. Eligible households may receive up to a $50/month discount on internet service, up to $70/month if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands, and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.
To qualify for the EBB program:
Your household must have an income at or below federal poverty guidelines, or any member of your household must participate in:
- Supplemental Security Income
- Federal Public Housing.
Other ways to qualify for the EBB program include:
- participation in one of several Tribal specific programs,
- experiencing substantial loss of income since March 2020 due to job loss or furlough,
- receiving federal Pell Grant in the current award year, or
- receiving approval for benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program.
In the same spirit of the Nationwide EBB program, California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) also believes that everyone should have access to affordable internet. Through their Digital Access Project program, CFILC has been helping close the digital divide since 2014 by assisting Californians in signing up for low-cost internet plans, starting at $10/month. The digital divide demonstrates that some people have limited or no access to the internet at all, with this divide being even larger for those with disabilities. In a 2017 statewide survey conducted by the World Institute on Disability in Berkley, data showed that 87% of California households were connected to internet, however only 75% of households that include people with disabilities had internet service.
CFILC is determined to help close the digital divide because we believe that having internet is an essential utility rather than a luxury. As a community we have become dependent on the internet to help us perform daily tasks such as schoolwork, operating our assistive technology, shopping for essentials, staying connected with loved ones etc. CFILC will provide full support to everyone in filling out the online EBB application, submit applications for low-cost internet, and answer any questions about the EBB program and low-cost internet offers in California.
* The EBB program is set to end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID19 health emergency whichever is sooner.