WASHINGTON – On Monday, Free Press and Access Now filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging strong and rapid implementation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program established by Congress in the latest pandemic relief package.
The EBB program offers a monthly benefit of up to $50 to low-income families and those financially impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The benefit would help cover the cost of any broadband plan offered by participating internet providers. For a low-cost plan, this benefit could offset the entire price charged to a customer, or offer a significant discount on a higher-tier internet service offering.
Congress directed the FCC to implement the EBB program quickly, and within sixty days of the law’s late December passage. Free Press and Access Now echo that call in today’s comments, while also urging the FCC to ensure its implementation promotes broad eligibility, ease of use, and public transparency.
Free Press Policy Manager Dana Floberg made the following statement:
“The establishment of the Emergency Broadband Benefit represented a tremendous victory for broadband affordability, particularly for low-income families and communities of color who have suffered greatly during the pandemic and are more likely to be disconnected from reliable home internet. Now it is up to the FCC to turn Congress’s promise into reality by quickly and effectively implementing the EBB program.
“In particular, the FCC must act with the interests of marginalized communities in mind by affirming a broad understanding of household eligibility, as well as a broad definition of the costs the benefit can cover. Prioritizing ease of access for eligible households, as well as widespread public awareness and transparency, will help ensure the EBB program offers meaningful and badly-needed support to families struggling to cross the digital divide.”
Access Now U.S. Policy Manager Eric Null made the following statement:
“The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a landmark program that truly prioritizes the needs of at-risk communities. I commend Congress for its hard work and implore the FCC to take this benefit seriously. Fixing the digital divide is a bipartisan issue, and helping communities who’ve taken a hit during the pandemic is the right thing to do.”