The $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Program (EBBP) gives a discount of up to $50 a month on a household's internet bill. Eligible households can also get a one-time discount of of $100 toward the purchase of a laptop, desktop or tablet.
"Many North Carolina families struggle to afford high-speed internet," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. "The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will help bridge the digital divide so that people in need can get online to talk with their doctors, learn remotely, find or do work, and connect with friends and family."
Those living on tribal lands will be eligible for a $75 a month discount.
Enrollment for EBBP will begin on May 12.
Households with an income at or less than 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for EBBP. A household will also qualify if at least one member participates in a federal benefits program like Medicaid, SNAP or Lifeline.
A household also qualifies if someone lost a job, received a Federal Pell Grant or is part of an internet service's low-income or COVID-19 program.
Searching for solutions to North Carolina's digital divide
"Affordability is one barrier among the inequities that prevent numerous North Carolina residents and households from accessing high-speed, high-quality internet," Jim Weaver, North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) secretary and state chief information officer, said. "This benefit can spur demand for building infrastructure to bring that service into areas of the state that have little or no access to broadband."
The program will end six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic over or when it uses all of its $3.2 billion funding.
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The FCC's consumer site has detailed information on how households can qualify and apply for the program. Households can also see a list of participating providers in their state. Governor Cooper has called on internet service providers in North Carolina to participate in the program so that more North Carolinians can afford to get online.
The FCC's consumer site has detailed information on how households can qualify and apply.