The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Broadband is critical for Indian Country, but it is often unavailable. In 2019, the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) found that 18 percent of Tribal reservation residents have no Internet access, while 33 percent rely on smartphones for Internet service. Even where broadband is available, the cost can be a barrier to access. It is crucial that Tribal communities have broadband access for education, work, and healthcare, all of which will be more accessible via the Emergency Broadband Benefits program (EBB).

The Emergency Broadband Benefit program provides benefits for a single Internet connection per home and will allow eligible households to receive a monthly discount on broadband access from their Internet provider. The provider may also offer broadband devices at a discount. It is important to check with your provider to see if they are participating in the EBB program. The start date for the EBB is May 12, 2021, with participating providers. Also, be sure to keep checking with your Internet service provider for more information. To see a list of providers, click here.  The following are some of the benefits the program can provide through participating Internet providers:

  • A monthly discount on Internet service of up to $50.
  • Individuals who live on federally recognized Tribal reservations may be eligible for a monthly discount on Internet service of up to $75.
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 on a broadband enabled device such as laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

 A household that qualifies for the EBB program only needs one member who meets any of the following criteria:

  •  Is unemployed and/or experienced a substantial loss of income after February 29, 2020. This includes those who were laid off, furloughed, or have applied for unemployment insurance benefits. Households must have made less than $99,000 for single tax filers or less than $198,000 in total income to qualify; 
  • Is a current Pell Grant recipient;
  • Currently receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program;
  • Is eligible for the Lifeline low-income discount program under the FCC; or
  • Is eligible for an existing low-income Internet plan from their current Internet service provider

The EBB is an incredible opportunity for eligible households both on and off-reservation to access a single Internet connection at a discounted rate. The start date for the EBB is May 12, 2021, with participating providers. Also, be sure to keep checking with your Internet service provider for more information. To see a list of providers, click here. Native Nations, please see our EBB Policy Article for more detailed information about the EBB program for your community.

Note: Additional benefits may be available from the Lifeline program. Individuals living on Tribal lands may be eligible for an additional discount of up to $34.25 per month, and up to a $100 reduction for first-time connection charges.

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