The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital equity, but it has also emphasized the digital divide that still exists. In an effort to bridge this divide, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to provide internet subsidies to families in need during the pandemic.
This $3.2 billion program provides eligible households with a $50 monthly credit towards broadband services. Additionally, eligible households can receive $100 towards a tablet or computer, and households on Native American lands can receive an increased credit of up to $75 per month.
Households can begin applying for the subsidy in the next 60 days. Households that automatically qualify for the credit include those on food stamps, those on Medicaid, and those who have received a Pell Grant.
The FCC estimates that 21 million Americans do not have high-speed internet available in their residences. This new program is a significant effort to bridge this digital divide and provide expanded internet services at a time when internet access has become more critical than ever. Lack of access to online education, medical services, and vaccine registration during the pandemic are primary concerns for households without broadband connections. Hopefully, this internet credit will be effective in promoting digital equity during the pandemic and beyond.