Emergency Broadband Benefit Program for eligible residents of Senior Housing Coming Soon

This week, staff from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) new Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program joined LeadingAge’s Housing Advisory Group call to discuss how the new program could help affordable senior housing residents as well as housing providers.

The EBB will provide support to eligible households with discounts for internet service for $50 per month, per household and a one-time up-to-$100 subsidy for a device such as a phone, tablet, router, computer, etc., for as long as the $3.2 billion provided via the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill for the program lasts. After the EBB program ends, according to FCC staff, the internet service provider must allow EBB participants to remain on the program at the pre-discounted rate.

For housing providers with bulk internet contracts FCC’s guidelines for the EBB program, adopted on February 25, responded to LeadingAge comments seeking use of the EBB program by housing providers to support broadband provided to multiple dwelling units at a single address, such as senior living, apartment buildings, and federal housing units, that receive service as part of a bulk billing arrangement where the households are not directly billed for services by their internet service provider, but instead pay a monthly fee for broadband services to their landlord. In the EBB program guidelines, the FCC agreed and said the program will “make available the Emergency Broadband Benefit available in these arrangements as long as the [internet service] provider is approved in the Program and the household is eligible under the statute.”

The EBB program is not enrolling subscribers just yet. The FCC is putting finishing touches on the program and anticipates having public enrollment in weeks, not months, FCC staff said.

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