AARP Wisconsin encourages residents to apply for Emergency Broadband Benefit

June 24, 2021

Sam Wilson

Dear Editor,

It’s difficult to comprehend the importance that access to high-speed internet played for millions of Wisconsinites over the last year. It served as a replacement for trips to the store for milk, eggs, and toilet paper as well as an electronic gateway to schools, clinics, and workplaces.

Unfortunately, the accessibility and affordability of high-speed internet also served as a barrier for many who found themselves increasingly isolated and without many options for these and other day-to-day activities during the pandemic.

However, we’re very hopeful about a benefit available to Wisconsinites that may help eliminate some of the barriers to high-speed internet access. The recently launched Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is an opportunity for Wisconsinites to possibly receive assistance for their high-speed internet needs.

The EBB is a $3.2 billion Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help Americans access the affordable, high-speed internet they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of Wisconsin households have already signed up for the EBB.

Under this short-term program, residents may be eligible for a discount on their high-speed internet service of up to:

• $50/month discount for high-speed internet services.
• $75/month discount for high-speed internet services for households on Tribal lands.
• A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

We know many of our friends, family, and neighbors experienced financial setbacks over the past year and have struggled to get by, which could qualify them for the program. Additionally, Wisconsin residents may be eligible for the EBB if they:

• Qualify for the Lifeline program, as well as those who participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and SSI benefits.
• Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
• Meet the criteria for a participating internet provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

Eligible households will enroll through participating broadband providers.

AARP fought hard for the EBB Program at the federal level and we want to make sure people are aware of this benefit that may be available for themselves and others. For more information about EBB, visit aarp.org/EBB, text INTERNET to 22777 or call 1-833-511-0311.

Through programs like EBB and others, we’re hopeful the recovery can and will continue for the millions of Wisconsinites across our great state who showed tremendous resilience in the face of enormous financial, physical, and emotional challenges over the past year.

Sincerely,
Sam Wilson
State Director
AARP Wisconsin