Government’s free and discounted internet program begins today

The siren’s song of a government-owned broadband network is luring Oldham County to a potential...
The siren’s song of a government-owned broadband network is luring Oldham County to a potential disaster, Andrew McNeill writes.(
Published: May. 11, 2021 at 10:24 AM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 11:19 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Starting Wednesday, eligible consumers in the CSRA and across the country will be able to sign up for temporary discounts on broadband services and on the purchase of laptop, desktop and tablet computers through a new federal benefit program.

Administered by the Federal Communications Commission, the pandemic-related program will continue until the $3.2 billion in federal funding runs out or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic.

The program will offer up to $50 per month for eligible households or $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands.

Also available is a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet computer from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

There is a limit of one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

Households are eligible if one occupant:

  • Demonstrates low income at or below 135% of the  federal poverty level.
  • Participates in assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid or Lifeline.
  • Relies on free and reduced-price school meals.
  • Received a federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
  • Suffered a large loss in income during pandemic 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.
  • Meets other eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

More than 825 broadband providers are taking part in the program. The benefit is available to eligible new, prior and existing customers of participating providers.

To sign up:

To learn more or get a mail-in application, call 833-511-0311.

This is a temporary program. When it ends, participating providers must give notice to customers and inform them of the cost for their plan after the discount ends. Importantly, consumers will need to opt-in to continue with the service.

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