Bipartisan E&C Leaders Call on Internet Providers to Raise Awareness of Emergency Broadband Benefit
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH) wrote to nine internet service providers (ISPs) and their trade associations today urging them to participate in and help make consumers aware of the newly created Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program, which will help struggling Americans afford high-speed internet. The $3.2 billion program was created as part of the final omnibus appropriations bill in December and was championed by the Committee leaders.
“As the Federal Communications Commission implements this program, it is critical that eligible customers know about the benefit, which providers are participating in the program, and how they can access the benefit,” Pallone, Rodgers, Doyle, and Latta wrote to the companies. “To further the effectiveness of this program, we urge your company to raise awareness about the availability of the EBB Program, consistent with applicable law and regulations.”
Once operationalized, the EBB Program will provide struggling families a discount of $50, or $75 on tribal lands, off the monthly cost of home internet service, and may also provide an additional subsidy for a computer. Internet providers who participate in the program can apply to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for reimbursement. The lawmakers acknowledged the efforts of many ISPs to address consumer connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but emphasized the need for them to play an ongoing role in proactively raising awareness of this groundbreaking program.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt throughout our country, the four Committee leaders also wrote that Americans continue to need help. In addition to the very serious health crisis, the economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to weigh heavily on families across the country. The pandemic has made access to reliable, high-speed internet more important than ever. Unfortunately, for many people, the cost of home internet service either prevents them from subscribing or forces them to make painful sacrifices in their home budget to pay the cost of service.
“For this historic $3.2 billion program to help the greatest number of people, it will require the cooperation and support of internet service providers like your company. Simply put, the more companies participate in the program, the more we can, together, ensure that all Americans have this crucial connectivity,” the Committee leaders continued.
Letters were sent to Altice, AT&T, CenturyLink/Lumen, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as to their trade associations.
Full letters are available here: