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Internet Assistance and Device Discounts

Sen. Schatz News Release

A new federal program is available to help Molokai residents pay for internet service and provide discounts on devices. The Federal Communications Commission announced that applications are now being accepted for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a program which provides up to $50 a month on internet service and discounts on computers and tablets for eligible participants. The new $3.2 billion federal program, established by the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress and signed into law in December, provides support for broadband services and certain devices to help low-income households stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Lots of Hawaii residents are struggling to pay their monthly bills, and this new program can help thousands of people who need it to stay online,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “If you’ve lost your job or need help with your internet bills, I encourage you to see if you qualify and apply for this new program.”

Households can qualify based on several criteria, comprising income level and eligibility for the National School Lunch Program (or the Community Eligibility Provision of the NSLP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Consumers can verify their eligibility and get more information at fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit/.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides up to a $50/month discount on broadband service and associated equipment rentals; up to a $75/month discount for households on qualifying Tribal lands; a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50).

Any household with income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines is eligible.

Households may also qualify for the program if any member of the home:

· Qualifies for Lifeline benefits through participation in SNAP (also known as food stamps), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit;

· Received approval for 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 or 2020-2021 school year;

· Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 with a total household income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers;

· Several other qualifications that can be found online

Charter has said it is offering a variety of broadband options under the program, and all Spectrum Internet plans available have no modem fees, data caps or contracts and include free self-installation. Interested consumers who are not currently Spectrum customers should visit spectrum.com/getqualified or call 1-855-662-9946. Current Spectrum customers can visit spectrum.net/broadbandbenefit to learn more.

More information on benefits, eligibility requirements, and details on how to apply available at GetEmergencyBroadband.org.

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