County reminds people about Federal Internet Discount Program

Gig Conaughton

County of San Diego Communications Office

The county is reminding the public about a Dec. 31 deadline for low-income residents and families to apply to receive discounted high-speed internet service through the Federal Communications Commission.

Eligible residents and families who apply by Dec. 31 can receive Federal Communications Commission high-speed internet discounts through March 2022 through local providers – up to $50 a month for households and $75 a month on qualifying tribal lands.

The FCC created its Emergency Broadband Service discount program during the COVID-19 pandemic to help eligible residents and families get or stay connected to high-speed internet service. The program is being replaced in March 2022 by a new FCC discount program.

For general information about the program and links to relevant websites, be sure to go to the FCC’s emergency broadband benefit website, https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit. FCC officials have warned the public that a fraudulent website falsely offered enrollment in the program to collect people’s information.

How to apply

Enrollment is a two-step process.

1. First, go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to print out a mail-in application or submit an application online.

2. Contact your preferred participating provider to select an eligible plan and have the discount applied to your bill.

Note: Eligible households must apply for the program and contact a participating provider to select a high-speed internet program.

Who is eligible?

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the following:

● Has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or who participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid, or Lifeline, the FCC’s Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications program

● Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year

● Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year

● Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

● Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

Ensuring that all San Diegans have access to high-speed internet is important to the County. The County is a member of the San Diego Association of Government’s Regional Digital Divide task force and is working on a plan to develop wider high-speed internet infrastructure throughout the unincorporated areas. County Supervisors also voted unanimously in May to commit up to $1.4 million to a SANDAG/Caltrans project to expand fiber optic cable along state route 67.

For more information about the program go to https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.

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