Over 180,000 NC Households Get Help With Monthly Internet Bills
NORTH CAROLINA (WWAY) – More than 180,000 North Carolina households are receiving critical assistance in providing high-speed Internet service through a federal assistance program that helps families in need pay their Internet bills and participate fully in the digital economy.
With 182,473 households enrolled in the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Emergency Benefit Program (EBBP), North Carolina’s enrollment level ranks sixth among the 50 states.
In April, Governor Roy Cooper sent letters to state Internet Service Providers (ISPs) asking them to participate in this effort to connect more of North Carolina to high-speed internet. A number of ISPs have responded to the Governor’s call to participate and enroll their customers in this program.
âAffordability is key to accessing the internet and digital equity,â Governor Cooper said. âThis subscription support gives North Carolina families access to the educational, business and online health resources they need to compete in today’s digital society.
The EBBP, which opened on May 12, cuts a qualifying household’s monthly internet bill by up to $ 50 per month. The discount increases to $ 75 per month for those who live on tribal lands. Eligible households can also get a one-time rebate of $ 100 on the purchase of a laptop, tablet or desktop computer from participating vendors.
“The pandemic has highlighted digital inequalities and the struggle of many families to afford a quality Internet,” said Jim Weaver, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) and director of state information. “We encourage all eligible North Carolina families to register for this benefit.”
Households with incomes equal to or less than 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the EBBP. A household is also eligible if at least one member participates in a federal benefits program such as Medicaid, SNAP, or Lifeline, receives benefits under the free and low cost school meals program, has lost a job or a significant income in the past year, has received a Federal Pell Grant, or is part of an Internet service provider’s COVID-19 program.
The program is expected to continue until the $ 3.2 billion allocated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 runs out or the US Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic over, according to the first. contingency.
Governor Cooper urges Congress and the North Carolina delegation to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to make the monthly rebate permanent for qualifying households in North Carolina. The law would reduce the monthly rebate to $ 30 and give the program $ 14.2 billion, renamed the Affordable Connectivity Program. The law was passed by the United States Senate but must also be passed by the United States House of Representatives and signed by the President to take effect.
Governor Cooper’s Closing the Digital Divide plan would maintain the monthly $ 50 rebate for four years with $ 420 million coming from the state’s allocation of US bailout fiscal stimulus funds. Governor Cooper’s plan to address affordability will make North Carolina one of the top five states for internet adoption and meet a target of 80% of North Carolinians subscribing to high-speed internet service. It is estimated that 380,000 North Carolina residents could benefit from continued subscription support.