FCC Warns of Emergency Broadband Benefit Imposter

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC has issued guidance on the use of the official Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment site: Accept no substitutes.

The FCC said it has taken steps to disable a website purportedly run by WiFi Freedom USA that claims to administer the EBB program, including connected devices and services.

The FCC said the site mimics the real one (the genuine site can be accessed here) and it is working with law enforcement to "address the issue."

The FCC said the imposter site "falsely claimed that it can provide consumers with free devices and services related to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program," and added that consumers may have seen ads for the site on social media.

Consumers may have also seen advertisements for WiFi Freedom USA's website on social media platforms.

Eligible households must apply for the benefit, so the FCC has been encouraging ISPs, broadcasters and others to spread the word about its availability.

The FCC also warned that anyone who gave personal information to the imposter site should go to IntentityTheft.gov.

The EBB, which launched May 12, is a $3.2 billion program established by Congress as part of a December COVID-19 aid package.

The program offers up to a $50-per-month subsidy for eligible households (up to $75 on tribal lands) and up to a one-time $100 toward a computer or tablet until the money runs out.

As cable broadband providers had asked for, the program is open to ETCs (eligible telecommunications carriers) and non-ETCs including cable broadband providers and wireless internet service providers (WISPs), as well as non-traditional broadband providers like community-owned networks, electric cooperatives, or municipal governments," the item said.

The FCC said Friday (Aug. 27) that over five million households have signed up for the EBB program since its launch in mid-May.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.