FCC to give low income families $50 a month for internet bills

The program will also offer up to $75 a month to households on Native American land

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On Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an emergency subsidy program that will provide a $50 monthly subsidy for high-speed internet to low-income households and people who lost jobs or had their income reduced during the pandemic.

The program will also offer up to $75 a month to households on Native American land for broadband service. Additionally, the FCC will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet for eligible homes, according to The New York Times.

The money for this program comes from the $3.2 billion allocated last year by Congress as part of its COVID-19 relief bill to bring internet service to American families for distance learning, work, and digital health care.

Read More: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave telecom agency on January 20

Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting chairwoman of the FCC, said in a statement that the program would be open to eligible households within the next 60 days. “This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection,” Rosenworcel said.

“It will help those sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch a Wi-Fi signal to go online for work. It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning,” she added.

Experts say the number of eligible families may quickly exceed the program’s funding. Once the $3.2 billion runs out, the program will end, according to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a group that advocates for broadband access, according to CBS News.

“There are two things to know about this program: One is that it’s very good it’s in place, and two, it’s definitely not enough,” said Phillip Lovell, vice president of policy development and government relations for Alliance for Excellent Education, a nonprofit that focuses on improving educational outcomes for high-school students.

Read More: Chicago Public Schools reverse stance, will teach remotely in the fall

The FCC’s subsidy program is “a big win for human rights,” said Dayton Young, product director at Fight for the Future, a group that advocates for internet access.

“Nobody should have to make a decision between buying groceries and paying for internet access so that their children can attend classes online, and yet that’s a decision countless people have been forced to make over the past year,” said Young.

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