Last month, I briefly mentioned the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Since that time, an AARP survey reveals that Americans age 50+ struggle to access and afford high-speed internet. According to the study, 15 percent of adults 50+ do not have access to any type of internet, and 60 percent say the cost of high-speed internet is a problem.
These findings underscore the potential impact of a new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program launched on May 12 by the Federal Communications Commission. AARP is encouraging all Americans who are struggling to afford their existing high-speed internet service, as well as those who cannot afford to subscribe to high-speed internet service, to sign up for the EBB program today.
“The pandemic has shown that access to high-speed internet is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. People without high-speed internet service are being left behind when it comes to health care, work, connecting with family and friends and education,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP executive vp and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “AARP strongly supports the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and will continue to advocate for policies that
help close the digital divide that has left millions of older adults without internet access.”
According to a recent report from Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP’s Aging Connected initiative, in partnership with the Humana Foundation, more than 22 million Americans 65+ still lack broadband at home.
The EBB program aims to help households struggling to afford high-speed internet during the Covid-19 pandemic. The program will run until the $3.2 billion in allocated funds are gone, but no longer than six months after the federal government declares an end to the pandemic.
For resources and more information about EBB, visit aarp.org/EBB, call (833) 511-0311 or text “internet” to 22777. For information in Spanish, visit aarp.org/FCCSubsidioInternet or call (833) 511-0311.
Under this short-term program, households may be eligible for a discount on their high-speed internet service of up to:
- $50/month discount for high-speed internet services.
- $75/month discount for high-speed internet services for households on Tribal lands.
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider.
Americans who may have experienced financial setbacks during the Covid-19 pandemic or are struggling to get by may be eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit if they:
- Qualify for the Lifeline program, as well as those who participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP and SSI benefits.
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since Feb. 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
- Meet the criteria for a participating internet provider’s existing low-income or Covid-19 program.
- AARP has a long history of providing personal technology resources. As part of our digital literacy work, OATS offers digital literacy courses, resources and events through its flagship program Senior Planet, which are a key part of the AARP Virtual Community Center, an online destination for AARP members and nonmembers alike.
OATS empowers older adults to overcome barriers to digital engagement by fostering skills and giving them the confidence they need to use technology and stay connected.
Let’s all get connected, and if you know someone that can use the help to get started, please help them.
Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.