The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provided $3.2 billion to create the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (“EBB”). This program provides eligible households a $50 benefit ($75 on tribal lands) to purchase a broadband internet subscription. On February 25, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released the rules governing the program. These rules included consumer and provider eligibility and outline how the program will be administered.

On March 30th, Next Century Cities’ Ryan Johnston joined the City of Detroit, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and Connect 313 advocates for a community update on the EBB. The discussion focused on why the program is critically important to help close the digital divide among low-income populations, and how municipalities can help maximize the enrollment for providers and consumers. Consumers can find EBB providers listed by state, which is updated on a rolling basis. 

Ryan highlighted why municipalities play a key role in advertising the EBB. Specifically, working with community members and providers to distribute information about who is eligible and how to apply will determine overall program success. Consumers often interact with their municipalities more regularly than they would with the FCC, or with the Universal Service Administrative Corporation (“USAC”). Local officials and other community leaders are well-positioned, and served as trusted resources, to share program information with residents in need. NCC also discussed how important the program is to ensure a continued focus on broadband affordability, and the ongoing need for a broadband benefit program. 

Local officials can sign-up for EBB updates or to be community partners on the FCC’s website. For more information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, visit Frequently Asked Questions. NCC also published resources for consumers here, and our guide for providers here

You can watch the full Detroit webinar here. The Universal Service Company is also hosting EBB trainings and webinars for consumer groups and providers.