Low-income households can receive a $50 discount on their internet service thanks to a new federal program that starts Wednesday.
The Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Broadband Benefit program is intended to help families pay for high-speed internet, which has become essential for work and school during the coronavirus pandemic.
The $3.2 billion program will be applied directly to consumers' bills, with 825 internet providers being part of the initiative, according to the commission. The internet subsidy was funded and authorized by the coronavirus relief package that Congress passed in December.
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The program will also provide a one-time discount of up to $100 to help families purchase a computer or tablet.
The discount will be available to those who are at or below 135% of the federal poverty level or those who receive federal government benefits (such as food stamps, Medicaid, Lifeline), get reduced-price school meals, or have received a federal Pell Grant.
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The commission has said internet providers will let customers know at least 30 days before federal funding for the program ends and will get user consent before charging them for their internet at full market rate.
Last month, bipartisan legislation was introduced to make it easier for companies to install broadband alongside existing infrastructure, such as federal highways, to help increase internet access in rural America.