NAICU Washington Update

$3.2 Billion Provided for Increased Broadband Access

March 12, 2021

Looking to close the digital divide, which impacts so many rural and low-income families, the Federal Trade Commission has announced an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that will provide $3.2 billion for discounts on internet service bills and computers for eligible households.  Families with a Pell Grant recipient are among the many households who automatically qualify for the benefit.  

Set to roll out next month, the program will provide discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service and up to $75 a month for families who live on Tribal lands.  It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households. 

In addition to this broad expansion for internet access, the American Rescue Plan provides $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate program to support emergency broadband connectivity and devices for schools and libraries.  While not directly targeted to colleges, the E-Rate program continues to address the digital divide that plagues rural communities and low-income families.  The pandemic and the national move to online learning only exacerbated the consequences of this disparity.

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