Earlier this summer, Senior Planet explored a divide within our hyper-connected and rapidly changing world; a “digital” divide leaving millions of people without access to basic connectivity or without devices to take advantage of basic internet access.
Some Good News
While these “digital deserts” continue to persist and cripple communities seeking connection to the world, the good news is that there are movements and solutions available to combat connectivity accessibility issues. But for one new benefit, you’d better act fast.
Here’s the Latest: EBB
The latest initiative is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) that helps families and individuals struggling to pay for the internet due to the pandemic.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a temporary program funded with some $3.2 billion to cut the cost of getting connected.
The EBB program offers discounts of up to $50 a month toward high-speed internet service for eligible households and up to $75 a month for households on Native American tribal lands. (Alaska, New Mexico and Oklahoma are the states with the highest percentages of Native Americans, according to the Census Bureau.)
Are You Eligible?
Several sources report that a household qualifies for the Emergency Broadband Benefit if it has an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines OR if any member of the household participates in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit. Other eligibility criteria include incomes impacted by COVID or other circumstances (a list is here).
The program will end when the money is spent or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the end of federal emergency surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Internet providers will have to notify participants about the last date of the discount or partial discount, when the federal money runs out, to help with a potential transition to another program.
Wait, there’s more!
Eligible households for EBB also can receive a onetime discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if the consumer contributes $10 to $50 toward the purchase price.
EBB is part of a wave of initiatives to increase connectivity among underserved populations. Another program closer to home is Aging Connected – a national campaign launched by Older Adults Technology Services, Inc. (OATS) and The Humana Foundation to bring at least a million older Americans online with high-speed internet by 2022.
Connectivity is vital
The EBB project and Aging Connected both offer older adults the opportunity to remain connected to and engaged with the world around them. While connectivity can be as small as checking an email inbox or as large as taking fitness classes via Zoom, having access to the world is important for all people.
Want to know more about EBB and sign up? Visit Aging Connected* at Senior Planet (link is here) and get the details.
Other ways to get info
-begin registration at getemergencybroadband.org.
-contact your internet provider for assistance
-sign up by mail; to get a mail-in application, call 833-511-0311.