What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.
How much is the benefit?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households.
Can more than one person in a household qualify?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount per household. A household is defined as any individual or group of individuals who are living together at the same address and share income and expenses—roommates are a household, a family living together are a household.
Who is eligible for the EBB program?
A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Qualifies for the Lifeline program;
- Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
When can I sign up for the EBB program?
As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.
Check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ for more information about the benefit and please continue to check this page for program updates.
Who receives the funds?
As the provider, Whidbey Telecom will receive the funds directly from the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
Can I apply for the EBB if I have a past due balance?
Yes, eligible consumers with a past due balance or a balance in collections are eligible for the benefit. The EBB does not apply to the past due balance, it will cover $50 of the current month’s invoice.
Can I use the funds to upgrade my service?
Yes, talk to your provider about the plans they have available as part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
Can I receive both EBB and Lifeline benefits at the same time?
Yes. You can also combine these benefits with other state and local benefits where available. They can be applied to the same qualifying service or separately to a Lifeline service and an Emergency Broadband Benefit service with the same or different providers. For example, an eligible household could have a Lifeline-supported mobile phone service and a separate home broadband service that is supported through the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
What is Lifeline and how do I qualify?
Lifeline is the FCC’s program to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. To participate in the Lifeline program, consumers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs. You can see if you are eligible by reviewing the information available at lifelinesupport.org (click “Do I Qualify?”).
How long with the EBB program last?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an emergency program developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will end once the program funds are exhausted, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic, whichever comes first.
How will I know the EBB program is ending?
Whidbey Telecom will give you notice about the last date or billing cycle that the full benefit will apply to your bill and the date or billing cycle that a partial benefit will apply to your bill, in addition to information about the cost of your broadband service after the program ends.
- The end of the program may not be timed to your billing cycle for service. This may result in you receiving less than the full monthly service discount in the final month of the program. In the event that you might receive a partial benefit in the last month of the program, your participating provider must receive your permission before they can charge you an amount higher than what you would pay if the full Emergency Broadband Benefit is applied to your broadband bill. In other words, if you were receiving a $50 discount off of your broadband bill, but based on the available funds in the program, there is only enough to provide you with a $40 discount, your provider must have your permission to charge you the additional $10.
- Households will need to opt-in or request to continue broadband services with their provider. If you don’t opt-in or select a new service plan with your provider, your broadband service will end once the program ends. Even if you had service with the same provider before enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, you will need to opt-in to continue broadband services after the program ends.