The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program provides subsidized broadband service for eligible households. However, the program is now facing a trust challenge in its awareness campaign and is aiming to overcome that hurdle, said Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting chairwoman for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on September 13 at an Internet Innovation Alliance webinar.

“Preaching to the nation from our office in Washington is not going to raise awareness of this service. To get this service to those who truly need it, we need to meet them at their hometowns,” Rosenworcel said.

That’s why the FCC is mobilizing people and organizations to help raise awareness about the EBB program. Specifically, the FCC is partnering with trusted organizations within communities – including Boys and Girls Clubs, food banks, and community centers – to raise awareness and trust about the program.

“And to do so, we put together an outreach tool kit to help our partners dispense relevant information. We have a chance to make sure that no household, no individual in this country, is left on the wrong side of the digital divide. And the FCC’s EBB program is a big part of it,” Rosenworcel said.

The EBB program is temporary, and it will expire when funds are exhausted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the end of the COVID-19 health emergency.

In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress appropriated $3.2 billion to the FCC to help low-income households pay for broadband service and connected internet devices through the EBB Program. The program provides a discount of up to $50 per month for broadband services for eligible consumers. Consumers who live on qualifying Tribal lands can receive enhanced support of up to $75 per month toward broadband services. The program also provides a one-time device discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.