In February of this year, the FCC voted to create a new $50 broadband subsidy for low-income people or those who lost income during the coronavirus pandemic. Enrollment for the subsidy for US residents is set to begin on May 12, and the FCC has a website set up where people can register for the subsidy. Consumers do have to use an approved broadband provider to be eligible to participate in the program.
Congress approved the subsidy in December, but it took a few more months for the FCC to get the program running. Previously, it was expected to be up and running by the end of April. Consumers wanting to participate can use a tool created by the FCC to find participating providers near them. However, the tool is not running at this time.
The FCC is clear that the subsidies and the program will end when the fund runs out of money or six months after an official end is declared to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Department of Health and Human Services. Anyone who participates in the program will need to opt in to continue receiving broadband service from their provider after the program ends. Those who choose to continue receiving service after the program ends will be billed at the standard monthly rate for the provider.
Congress funded the program with $3.2 billion for subsidies, and there is legislation pending that would add another $6 billion if it’s approved. Those wanting to see if they qualify can visit the “Do I Qualify?” page. Households will qualify if any household member receives certain types of benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP, or public housing assistance, among other qualifications. Anyone who lost substantial income during 2020 will also qualify.