Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Update

Posted by
E.J. John
Policy & Research Analyst

On Monday, June 7, 2021, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the launch of a new data dashboard which tracks the progress of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). The EBB Data Dashboard was established to monitor the number of claims made to the EBB Program and sorts the claims into categories by state and Tribes. The dashboard will also provide information on the amount of money spent throughout the duration of the EBB program. 

As of June 6, 2021, the dashboard shows 61,442 claims made from households on Tribal Lands. Unfortunately, the data does not specify which areas these claims are from. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there were 2,847,336 Native American Individuals throughout the United States. If each of the claims represents a 4-person household, that would meanonly 245,768 people have been served so far. Furthermore, it means only about 8% of the estimated Native American population has been served by the EBB Program thus far. We at the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) have found through our own research that 18% of Tribal reservation residents who participated in the study indicated they have no Internet access at home. 33% of Tribal reservation residents in our study stated that they rely on smartphones for Internet access and another 31% indicated that they have “poor” or “spotty” Internet access.

Native Americans living on and off Tribal reservations are in dire need of internet access.  A lack of Internet providers participating in the EBB program,  lack of awareness of the program, and a lack of Internet availability are some of the reasons for the slow start to the EBB Program. Please continue to check our Tribal Broadband Resources Page as well as the AIPI website  to stay up to date on the latest EBB Program developments.