New federal broadband benefit could assist nearly one-third of Idahoans

    BRIEF

    Young student watching lesson online and studying from home (Getty Images).

    Many Idahoans could be eligible for discounted broadband service through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Commerce.

    The $3.2 billion program launched in early May and provides temporary financial assistance of up to $50 per month for broadband internet service plans, or up to $75 per month if the household is located on tribal land. A discount of $100 on equipment such as a laptop, desktop computer or tablet is also available to qualifying individuals, according to the release.

    The benefit is part of a new Federal Communications Commission program that can lower the cost of broadband internet access for families and households.

    “This FCC program comes at a crucial time. Across the state there are financial challenges to Idahoans accessing affordable broadband internet so they can connect, learn and compete in the 21st century,” Eric Forsch, Broadband Development Manager at the Idaho Department of Commerce, said in the release. “We have made significant inroads in leveraging federal broadband COVID-19 grants to help connect over 100 communities with essential virtual services and hope to help connect more Idahoans through the EBB Program.”

    The department estimated as much as one-third of Idaho’s population could be eligible for the benefit. Anyone meeting one of the following criteria qualifies:

    • Household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (for example, up to $23,517 for a two-person family)
    • Participants in federal assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline
    • Individuals who have lost their job or have been furloughed at any point between Feb. 29, 2020, and present
    • Students who are enrolled in a reduced school lunch program
    • Students at schools or school districts that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which provides free meals to all students
    • College students who have received a Federal Pell Grant this past year

    “With so many eligibility factors applying to both adults and children, we want to be sure all eligible Idaho families take advantage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit,” Idaho State Board of Education Chief Technology Officer Chris Campbell said in the release.

    All eligible Idahoans are encouraged to apply now while funds are still available. The program ends when all funds are expended, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency.

    There are three ways to apply for EBB Program:

    • Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process. A full list of participating providers in Idaho can be found at fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers#Idaho.
    • Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
    • Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to:
      Emergency Broadband Support Center
      P.O. Box 7081
      London, KY 40742
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    Kelcie Moseley-Morris
    Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press. She has covered city and county government, crime and courts, education and the Idaho Legislature. She has received awards from the Idaho Press Club for her reporting on the aftermath of a $4.5 million budget shortfall at Nampa School District, as well as her reporting on campaign finance. Her specialty is reporting complex subjects related to fiscal policy in a straightforward, understandable way. Born and raised in Boise, Moseley-Morris lives with her husband, their daughter, and a silly dog named Olive in Meridian. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling to new places, mostly for the food.