The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a COVID-relief benefit program designed to ensure that cost is not a barrier to getting and maintaining a broadband subscription. Eligible households can receive a monthly discount of up to $50 per month for broadband service from a participating provider or up to $75 per month if on Tribal lands. Recipients may also benefit from a one-time $100 discount on a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

As of September 2021, approximately five million households have enrolled in the EBB which speaks to the widespread and ongoing need for support. Over 33 million households are eligible for Lifeline, which has provided a broadband subsidy since 2016. The EBB is a far more expansive program that encompasses all Lifeline eligible households, as well as households that qualify under numerous other criteria. Millions of EBB eligible households have yet to enroll, proof of the critical need for community outreach.

On September 10, 2021, Next Century Cities (NCC) helped to facilitate a meeting in which community leaders and local officials from Baltimore shared personal accounts of EBB outreach and enrollment efforts with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and other agency officials.

The City of Baltimore, an NCC member municipality, has a long history of community advocacy. With the help of philanthropic support, local leaders have the requisite resources to tap into time-tested social infrastructure to promote the Emergency Broadband Benefit and support enrollment.

The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation’s blog post gives a detailed overview of key takeaways of the September 10th meeting. Additionally, NCC filed an ex parte with the FCC to memorialize the discussion. 

NCC works to ensure that local leaders and community-level perspectives are incorporated into broadband policymaking at every level of government. For ways to elevate your community’s story, particularly on how the Emergency Broadband Benefit program is making an impact on residents, local officials should contact Ryan Johnston, NCC’s Policy Counsel for Federal Programs.