The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday announced a proposal to use $3.2 billion in emergency funds to subsidize broadband service for millions of households. The aim is to assist families struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic.
If approved, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program could provide $50 a month to millions of households, and more in tribal lands.
The FCC is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the U.S.
The acting chairwoman of FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, announced that under the proposal, qualifying households would receive $50 (R731) a month in discounts for high-speed internet service. The discount would be $75 (R1. 096) for households on tribal lands and a one-time $100 (R1, 462) reimbursement for laptops, tablets and computers purchased through a qualified provider.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program was created in the budget passed by Congress earlier this year.
“The next step in that process is for the Commissioners to consider the program structure and rules and then vote. Once that is complete, the law requires us to review requests from interested providers who want to participate in the program, and we will also continue to develop the system we will use to administer the program,” Rosenworcel said in a statement.”
“We are working hard to be able to announce the start date for the program.”
Rosenworcel said no one should have to choose between paying their internet bill or paying to put food on the table.
“With the help of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, we have a new way for households to access virtual learning, for patients to connect to telehealth providers, and for those struggling in this pandemic to learn new online skills and seek their next job,” she said.
“I urge the FCC to act swiftly to help as many households and families as possible take advantage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.”