FCC's Rosenworcel: More Than 4 Million Tap Into Broadband Benefit

FCC's acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel

Acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel said that more than four million households have signed up for a new Biden Administration emergency broadband subsidy program.

The EBB, which launched May 12, is a $3.2 billion program established by Congress as part of a December COVID-19 aid package. In addition to helping low income residents get and stay connected during the pandemic the EBB includes a one-time $100 toward a computer or tablet.

Also Read: EBB Sign-ups Top 2.3 Million

"With more than four million enrolled households in less than three months, I say we’re on the right track,” said Rosenworcel in trumpeting the figure.

She cited what she said were the FCC's "creative ways" to boost awareness, including virtual public presentations and a customizable toolkit for partners including schools, libraries, nonprofits and food banks, and YMCAs.

More than 1,100 broadband providers are participating in the program, which is available to existing as well as new customers.

At the FCC's direction, the Universal Service Administrative Company, which administers the FCC's ongoing Universal Service Fund advanced telecommunications subsidy program, set up an online dashboard to track the EBB. The dashboard includes information on nationwide enrollment as well as state-by-state breakdowns, and will provide the amounts disbursed once claims for the money are filed.

California boasts the most sign-ups with over a half million households tapping into the subsidy.

As cable broadband providers had asked for, the program is open to ETC's (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.

Households already getting discounted broadband through various broadband operator programs will be automatically eligible for the EBB subsidy, but cannot be automatically enrolled by the broadband provider.

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.