The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the start of the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, which will allow eligible households to receive a monthly discount off broadband service costs from an approved provider as of May 12, 2021.
The EBB program will provide eligible households with discounts up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands. Additionally, it will provide for a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.
“Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to get online throughout this pandemic. For those families, we now say help is around the corner. In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities. I’m proud of the work we’ve done as an agency to get this program off the ground in record time,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release.
While the program is about to ramp up, Reps. John Thune, R-S.D., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., want the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a comprehensive review of the EBB program to determine effectiveness.
“The goals of the EBB program are laudable, but as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, it is imperative Congress and GAO conduct proper oversight,” the Republican congressmen wrote in a letter to GAO. “The FCC quickly adopted rules to establish the program, but despite the program not disturbing any funds to its intended recipients – consumers who are struggling to pay for their broadband service during the pandemic – there have already been calls for billions of dollars in additional support for the EBB program.”
The congressmen requested that GAO specifically examine: waste, fraud, and abuse; administrative costs; eligibility requirements; and other items determined appropriate by the Comptroller General.