On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publicized participation results for the first three weeks of its Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program, part of the federal government’s $900 billion coronavirus relief package. According to the news release, the EEB Program has enrolled 2.3 million households in the congressional subsidy initiative since mid-May. As previously reported, the $3.2 billion EBB Program was formalized in February after a notice and comment period.
According to the FCC, the household figure encompasses families in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa, who have been approved to receive a discount on their monthly internet bills and have selected a participating provider to receive internet service from. Under the program, eligible households receive discounts of up to $50 each month for broadband service and up to $75 each month if the household is located on Native American lands. The program also allows households a $100 one-time discount on the purchase of a computer or tablet.
Simultaneously, the FCC announced the rollout of a new public information dashboard. At the FCC’s direction, the Universal Service Administration Company has reportedly launched the data initiative for advocates, members of Congress, and the general public, enabling them to track the progress of the EBB Program. The regularly updated information hub contains state-specific and nationwide enrolment figures and reports on the amount of program funds dispersed.
Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel commented on the progress, stating “I am thrilled to see that the great need for affordable broadband support is being met with over 2 million households enrolled in three short weeks. I’ve also said we need good data to know how the program is progressing and to inform any long-term efforts to address broadband affordability. This information is now available to the public as we always intended.”