Getting 100% of us connected: A discussion on leveraging the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

A screenshot from the virtual roundtable on the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Washington D.C. (February 17, 2021) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a virtual roundtable event on February 12 on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP). Leaders in the technology and telecommunications industry shared ideas on the important public policy and program administration decisions that will affect how the program is implemented.

The FCC is overseeing the new $3.2 billion program to “help U.S. households that are struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic.” The agency recently launched a website for the program, which can be found by clicking here.

The roundtable event included opening remarks from Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, and FCC commissioners Brendan Carr, Geoffrey Starks, and Nathan Simington.

“Congress appropriated $3.2 billion for a new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that would enable eligible households to receive a discount on the cost of broadband service and certain connected devices during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rosenworcel. “We are stronger when we are all connected and this program is a powerful way to help make it happen.”

This event also included two question-and-answer panels that examined key issues related to the EBBP program. The first panel discussed outreach and consumer enrollment considerations.

“When we think about how important broadband is to the daily life of all of us, particularly, in this pandemic, we must reach out to all groups of people to make sure they have a solid connection,” said Olivia Wein, Attorney, National Consumer LawCenter. “That’s why it is important for people to register! If you have networks and want to be a part of this, this is going to be a centralized place to hear it firsthand and get the materials firsthand.”

Those who are interested can learn more at https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.

The second panel focused on broadband provider participation and consumer choice in the program.

“It is essential that the EBBP be rolled out in a way that encourages competition and provider participation,” said Brenda Victoria Castillo, President and CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition.

“Consumer choice is important, especially as the FCC considers rules around implementing the EBB program. Consumers should be rewarded for simplicity and ease in applying for and receiving the benefit,” said Anisa Green, Director, Federal Regulatory, AT&T.

“We need to use all available tools to get 100% of us connected in this country and this program is an essential part of making that happen.”

If you are interested in learning more about the EBBP, you can watch the full roundtable event by clicking on the video below or head to https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.

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