The federal government wants to take over the Internet tab of tens of millions of Americans. This may include yours.
The Extraordinary Benefit Benefit, or EBB, was launched on Wednesday to help a surprisingly wide range of people who have been financially affected by the coronavirus epidemic. It can cost up to $ 50 per month for the cost of your internet service և is available to all families who have lost some income in the last year և, among others, earn less than $ 198,000. To raise $ 3.2 billion, the EBB is the largest federal program to help pay for the Internet in the three decades that Americans have been online.
But there is hunting. You can get the EBB discount from your home internet or mobile phone account only if you register. I will show you how. Just know that it may require some patience. So many people apply, so the government website to prove you are eligible for the EBB disappeared on Wednesday morning for some people.
The Reflect program reflects one clear lesson of covid-19. The Internet has become as important to American life as electricity and water. Seeing how many people struggle with the epidemic of going to school, consulting a doctor, or working online has helped Congress realize that the high cost of broadband is a major cause of America’s digital divide. Well, maybe it took Congress a few months to realize that, but it’s better than never. Lawmakers authorized the EBB in December as a $ 2 trillion coronavirus aid package. Now the Federal Communications Commission finally has a plan, operating in each state, in an area where there are more than 875 Internet service providers or ISPs.
For many, the EBB discount can be made online for free. The money goes directly to your ISP, who will deduct it from your account each month until six months after the epidemic officially ends, or most likely up to insufficient program money. This is a good opportunity to register as soon as possible.
But before you can get an EBB, you must prove that you are eligible. Good news. Many, many Americans are eligible for a number of reasons. So much so that even the FCC could not figure out exactly how many people could be affected by the EBB or how much it would cost.
I went through the application process with the largest Internet providers in America. For most people, registering is a two-part process, proving your eligibility to the government and then telling your ISP that you want the discount. It does require some paperwork to be uploaded (or physically mailed), but the FCC says the process should not take more than 10 minutes.
It is important to know the language before you start. The new monthly discount plan is called Extra Broadband Benefit or EBB. There is another government program called Lifeline, which provides basic services to low-income people. People already registered in Lifeline can also get EBB, but EBB includes many more Americans.
Here are the basics of EBB և My advice on how to avoid some of the hassles of ISPs that can force you to jump through the loops to get paid.
Question. How Much Money Can You Get From an EBB?
Answer. The cost of broadband for each family is $ 50 per month, and the money comes directly from your internet account, not through discount checks or taxes. You can use it on your home internet or wireless cell phone bill, but not both in the same house.
Just notice. Not all internet applications are eligible, especially high-speed ones.
According to Consumer Reports, the average US monthly internet bill is about $ 65. If your account is less than $ 50, you cannot pocket what is left of the EBB.
The EBB benefit increases to $ 75 per month for families living in pedigree areas. And there is also a one-time additional $ 100 discount for people who purchase new equipment through a participating company – a laptop or tablet.
H. Can you apply EBB to a packaged service plan?
Answer. You cannot technically use EBB to pay for cable TV or audio service. But if you have an internet package that includes one of these, your provider can use EBB for the part that pays for the internet.
H. Who can get an EBB?
H. The FCC has an online “Am I Qualifying” page that I recommend reading for details, but jurisdiction is divided into three major categories:
Րած Americans who lost their jobs or significant income during the global epidemic, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the lowest point in May 2020, amounted to about 50 million Americans.
: People who receive food stamps, Medicaid, additional social security benefits, federal public housing assistance, have a child who has been eligible for free discounted school meals, or who has received a federal Pell grant for education. You can also get it if your income is 135 percent or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which vary by household size: state.
∙ Americans already have access to subsidized or low-income Internet services such as FCC Lifeline or ISP-sponsored programs such as Comcast’s $ 10 monthly Internet Wealth.
H. Can retirees apply to the EBB?
Yes, but just retiring will not qualify you. You must prove that you meet one of the above criteria.
For example, apply to a family of two who meet the poverty line – $ 23,517 in 48 neighboring states, D DC և areas.
Q: Is the EBB open to US citizens only?
No. All US residents can apply.
H. Can you get an EBB if you lost income in 2020 but got a new job in 2021?
– Yes You do not have to prove continuing unemployment, but you do have to prove that your current annual income is less than $ 99,000 for a single person or $ 198,000 for a family.
H. Is your ISP involved?
Answer. Your first step in registering with EBB is to make sure your ISP is participating in the program. The United States has thousands of ISPs, some of which serve only certain regions or zip codes, and none of them are required to participate. At first I doubted that the voluntary system would cover large areas of the country, but I am impressed. Even Lowing County, Texas (population 169) has several ISP participants.
Some ISPs, such as the satellite company Viasat, tell me that they have registered with the FCC to join the program, but have yet to provide final details, so they do not yet appear on the EBB website.
GetEmergencyBroadband.org links to a page where you can zip code to find out which companies are participating in your area.
Some of the largest wired wireless ISPs, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon և Charter, have dedicated web pages about the program.
If your ISP is not involved but there is another person in your area, that is, you can change ստանալ still get the benefit as a new customer.
Question. How did you register with EBB?
Answer. For most people, the process will start by applying online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org, which is available in English and Spanish. This site is run by a company called Universal Service Administrative Co., but it is still the official registration site.
The site asks you to prove your identity by, for example, sharing a social security number, driver’s license, passport or other identity document. You will then need to upload copies of documents proving your eligibility, such as your dismissal notice or unemployment application և your 2020 tax returns. (You can scan them or even take photos with your phone).
You must receive a confirmation notice within two days.
If you do not have the ability to apply online or internet speed, you can also download, print the application, and then email it.
Once approved by the government verification system, you should go to your ISP and tell them. Some allow you to display the flag online or in the store, while others require you to call them.
Applying is easier for people who are already registered with Lifeline or with apps like Comcast Online Essentials. By participating in these programs, your eligibility is already checked. You just have to tell your ISP that you want to use the EBB Privilege.
H. How do you apply to the EBB if the broadband bill is in the name of your roommate or partner?
A: The EBB refers to “households” that the FCC says include “an adult living with friends or family who provide financial support.” The time has come to apply, but it must be done on behalf of the person eligible for the benefit. Comcast told me that if someone in the house is currently paying their monthly bill, the company might ask you to change the name on the account for the person applying for the benefit.
H. Can you get an EBB if you already lag behind your internet accounts?
A. FCC rules state that even if your bill is illegal, your ISP still has to allow you to register with the EBB. But you will still have to pay for your past bills.
H. Can your ISP use EBB to play tricks on your bill?
Some ISPs may try to use this as an opportunity to promote you with faster, more expensive service plans. For example, Verizon forces you to call a phone number, talk to a representative to register. It would not tell me whether the call would include a level of sales, there is no rule that would prevent it.
I have found a number of ISPs claiming that their earlier programs were not eligible for the EBB. Technically, EBB rules allow this. They just need to make the EBB available to low-income customers for at least one service. Again, I imagine some suppliers are trying to use EBB registrations as leverage to introduce more expensive new software to people. (And ISPs wonder why they are among the least popular American companies)
Just keep in mind that if you upgrade your app, you may run out of money for higher monthly payments when you run out of EBB money.
H. What happens when EBB runs out of money?
Answer. The EBB’s money will flow until six months after the federal government announces the end of the Code 19 health crisis, or when the money runs out, which will come first.
The FCC says it will monitor its total amount և will issue a notice online as it approaches the floor.
Of course, Congress can extend the program that some lawmakers have proposed.
PRESIDING JUSTICE – Will the EBB close America’s digital divide?
“We’ve been talking about the digital divide for years, but at least 18 million Americans do not yet have fast, reliable connections,” the FCC said in a report released last June. Some people think that this calculation still underestimates the real problem.
The difference with the EBB is that Congress is addressing broadband costs, not just building more physical infrastructure in rural areas, says Jon Onatan Schwantes, Senior Policy Advisor at Consumer Reports. “The bigger problem is that broadband “It’s just worthless,” he says. But in the long run, subsidies alone will not solve problems that include price transparency, lack of service uniformity.
Question. What if I have more questions? – or did you find any signs?
Answer. You can call the EBB Helpline at 833-511-0311.