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The government wants to pay your internet bill for a while

By Jeri Chadwell

Nevadans are being urged to see if they qualify for a Federal Communications Commission program to offset the cost of broadband internet service.

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office put out an announcement today urging eligible Nevada families to take advantage of the new Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, which was launched by the FCC earlier this week.

“During this pandemic, we have learned just how important broadband connectivity is for work, education, telemedicine and staying connected to family and friends,” Sisolak said. “Today, I ask our partners and organizations that provide critical social services, to help Nevada families register for this important Emergency Broadband Benefit program.”

The program is funded at $3.2 billion, and it’s open to all qualifying residents—not just citizens. The program will continue until six months after the pandemic is officially over or until it runs out of money. The latter may be more likely.

The EBB program provides up to a $50 per month discount for home internet services and a one-time discount of $100 toward the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.

Households may qualify for the program if they participate in a number of different federal programs, including SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline. Those who experienced a loss of income during the pandemic, through job loss or furlough, may also qualify.

The temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit provides:

  • Up to $50/month discount for broadband service;
  • Up to $75/month discount for households on qualifying Tribal lands; and
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

The EBB is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

A household is eligible if a member of it meets one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

A Consumer FAQ and other program resources are available here.

There are three ways to apply:

  1. Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
  2. Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
  3. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742

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