ACROSS THE SPECTRUM: Broadband Prices Declining Learn More

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Author

Jonathan Spalter

Key to Closing the Digital Divide: Make the Emergency Broadband Benefit Permanent

We know broadband has been essential to getting through the pandemic, but it’s equally essential to social mobility, equitable education and opportunity, and quality healthcare for the long haul. To build a future that is stronger and more resilient for everyone, it’s time to ensure broadband affordability for all in America, through a permanent and direct federal assistance program.

When Congress approved the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) it set aside $3.2 billion for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide qualifying households up to $50 per month for internet service and $75 per month on Tribal lands.

The FCC moved with urgency – and unanimous bipartisan agreement – to get the program up and running immediately to help working families, students, those who lost their jobs and others affected by the pandemic.

Many broadband providers already offered their own reduced price service plans, and more than 1,000 have stepped up to participate in this critical connectivity effort.

In the first two months, 3.7 million households (and climbing) have enrolled – around one in 12 who are eligible. (So we’ve got to continue to spread the word). Also encouraging, where wireline broadband adoption rates are low, enrollment is even higher.

But “emergency” assistance won’t last forever. In fact, these resources will run out if Washington doesn’t act.

Along the lines of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal programs that have proven to be efficient models to deliver assistance, Congress and the Biden Administration should similarly establish a permanent, government-funded broadband affordability program that provides direct and targeted help to consumers.

It’s time to ensure everyone can afford broadband and receive the opportunities that come with connectivity, particularly those who cannot do so without this vital, direct assistance.

Help spread the word on EBB: https://www.getemergencybroadband.org/

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