The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) announced Sept. 17 that more than 106,800 Wisconsin households are enrolled in the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which is approximately 20% of all eligible Wisconsin households and above the national average of 15%.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) benefit provides a temporary discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for homes on Tribal lands.
“I am thrilled pleased to see so many Wisconsin families taking advantage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which has helped keep residents connected to this essential service during the pandemic,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq.
“Affordability plays a big part in broadband access,” Cameron Valcq added, “which is why we continue to urge those who may be struggling to pay their monthly internet bill to apply for financial support while the funds remain available.”
According to the FCC, 394,000 Wisconsinites lack access to high-speed internet service, and 1.5 million residents qualify for the program.
The program is funded with $3.2 billion through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and will be available until funds are depleted.
Eligible households for the benefit include a household that meets any of these criteria:
• A household’s income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of that size;
• At least one person in the household must receive benefits from one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit;
• At least one person in the household is in the free and reduced-price lunch program or the school breakfast program (including attending a Community Eligibility Provision school);
• At least one person in the household has been laid off or furloughed since Feb. 29, 2020 and the household has an income of less than $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers
• At least one person in the household has received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year; or
• At least one person in the household can participate in their broadband provider’s existing low-income or COVID–19 program.
If a household is located on Tribal lands, it is eligible if at least one person in the household participates in Bureau of Indian Affairs general assistance, Tribally administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard), or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
In addition, the FCC expanded eligibility requirements to families with students who qualify for school lunch and breakfast programs for the 2021-22 academic year. The FCC Back-to-School toolkit is available to provide handout materials for schools and outreach partners.
People who would like to enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program should contact their broadband internet provider or visit the FCC’s website at www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit. For a list of providers participating in the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, visit here. The list will be updated as more providers enroll in the program.