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North Carolina Households Can Get Help With Internet Bills From A Federal Program

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) gives a discount of up to $50 a month to a household's internet bill.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) gives a discount of up to $50 a month to a household's internet bill.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) gives a discount of up to $50 a month to a household's internet bill. That increases to $75 a month for those living on tribal lands. Eligible households can also get a one-time discount of $100 toward the purchase of a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer through participating providers.

Enrollment in EBBP will open on May 12, 2021. Households with an income at or less than 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the EBBP.

A household also qualifies if at least one member participates in a federal benefits program such as Medicaid, SNAP, or Lifeline, receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program, lost a job or a significant amount of income in the past year, received a Federal Pell Grant, or is part of an internet service provider’s low-income or COVID-19 program.

"Affordability is one barrier among the inequities that prevent numerous North Carolina residents and households from accessing high-speed, high-quality internet," Jim Weaver, North Carolina Department of Information Technology secretary and state chief information officer, said.

"This benefit can spur demand for building infrastructure to bring that service into areas of the state that have little or no access to broadband," Weaver added.

Administered by the Federal Communications Commission, the program was created by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to help Americans access healthcare, jobs, classrooms, and businesses during the pandemic.

The EBBP will end six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic is over or when the program uses all of its $3.2 billion funding, whichever happens first. Providers must notify consumers at least 30 days before the discount ends and must let consumers opt-in to continue service before charging them a higher rate.

Many types of providers, including those offering landline and wireless broadband, are offering the discount. The FCC gives guidance for providers seeking to participate.

The NCDIT Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO) offers guidance on how North Carolina households can apply for the benefit and how providers in the state can participate in it.

In addition, the FCC's consumer site has detailed information on how households can qualify and apply for the program. Households can also see a list of participating providers in their state.

NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office is currently conducting a survey to gather better data on broadband availability and quality in the state. To take the five-minute survey, visit ncbroadband.gov/survey or call 919-750-0553.

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