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More Montana Families Can Access Affordable, Reliable Broadband Thanks to Tester-backed Program

Jon-Tester-Town-hall-06-21-19_Kevin-Trevellyan

 

FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program lowers cost of broadband service for households in need of relief

 

(U.S. Senate) – Montana households can now apply to receive discounts toward reliable broadband service or a device through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today.

 

“Affordable, reliable broadband isn’t a luxury in the 21st century—it’s a necessity,” said Tester. “This pandemic has underscored the urgent need for folks to get and stay connected as families have navigated the challenging realities of working and learning from home. This critical program will allow more Montanans access to broadband services and help close the digital divide, once and for all.”

 

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband services for eligible households, and up to $75 per month for eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands. The benefit also provides up to $100 per household towards a one-time discount toward the purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

An eligible household includes one member meeting at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 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.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit program was authorized in the 2020 end of year COVID relief package passed in December. Households can apply online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org.

 

As Montana’s only member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Tester has been a champion of expanding access to broadband services in rural America. He recently secured a commitment from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to help bolster broadband in rural areas, and he secured $65 million to implement his bipartisan Broadband DATA Act, which updates federal broadband funding distribution maps to ensure accurate and efficient allocation of resources.

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