Free Internet for Low-Income Families: The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

If you’re like many Americans, your life may have changed a lot since the start of the pandemic. In these times of great economic and social uncertainty, you may have canceled subscriptions and cut back budgets while simultaneously using more home internet than ever.

A broadband bill can be tough to afford, but being connected to the internet is more important than ever. In recognition of this fact, the government has passed a measure to help people get or keep broadband service in their homes. Read on to learn more about the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. We’ll close with a tip on how you can get a brand new tablet for just $10.01. 

Why an Internet Connection Is Crucial

Before we dive into the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, let’s talk about why internet service is so critical. These days, nearly every aspect of our lives is connected to the internet in one way or another. We check our bank balances, pay bills, apply for jobs, interact with friends, and find entertainment online. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our internet connection has become more important than ever. Many of us have had to transition to working from home, and schools have moved to virtual learning platforms. Internet service has become necessary for living a productive life in modern society.

Internet service can also be crucial for individuals or families trying to make ends meet. They may need to research aid programs they’re eligible for, as well as applying for these programs online. And an internet connection can help enable people in uncertain situations to pursue an education or apply for jobs.

What Is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program? 

The Emergency Broadband Benefit program is a COVID-19 pandemic relief program. The measure responds to the increase in work from home and virtual learning arrangements during the pandemic. Congress and the FCC recognize that low-income households may not continue working or going to school without this support. 

The EBB is a temporary program operated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that provides discounts on monthly broadband Internet access service and certain connected devices. EBB services and devices are subject to consumer eligibility, provider participation, product availability, and FCC/Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) approval.

How the Program Was Established

The EBB program is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, a $2.3 trillion spending package. $900 billion of that money was dedicated to providing relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. $3.2 billion was specifically designated to the Federal Communication Commission for the EBB program.

On February 25, 2021, the FCC adopted the report that officially established the EBB program.

Other Broadband Assistance: Lifeline

If you’ve looked into federal aid programs in the past, you may be aware that the government already offers some broadband assistance programs. In particular, Lifeline gives consumers access to broadband services for a discounted rate. The Lifeline program was established in 1985 and updated in 2016 to include these internet programs.

The Lifeline program can also help eligible families get cell phone service. You will need to bring your own phone in order to get this service. But if you qualify for SNAP benefits or any other government assistance program, you could get free unlimited talk and texting, as well as a data plan.

If you qualify for Lifeline, you also qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Your online Lifeline application with StandUp Wireless will give you access to apply to both programs automatically to ensure that you are maximizing your benefit. If you would like to apply for Lifeline or EBB only with StandUp Wireless, call 1-800-544-4441.

How are Lifeline and the EBB Different?

Lifeline is the FCC’s permanent program to support affordable access to essential communications services such as broadband Internet access.  The EBB is a temporary program through which a participating provider can apply discounts to the same service plan on which you receive Lifeline service or a different service plan.


Several conditions can qualify you to participate in the EBB program. The EBB shares the same qualifying eligibility criteria as Lifeline – participation in SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Fund, and income at or below 135% of the federal poverty level.  For a limited time determined by the FCC, unemployment may qualify you for Lifeline and the EBB.  Additional eligibility criteria are unique to EBB and do not qualify for Lifeline.  These include Pell Grants (current award year recipients), Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch and Breakfast (including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision), as well as reduced wages in certain instances.

Device Subsidy

Besides providing discounts on internet service, the EBB program can also help participants get help buying internet-connected devices. Having internet service doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have the necessary hardware, so many provider companies are working to bring free or low-cost devices to qualifying customers.

You may qualify for a one-time benefit to help cover the cost of a device under the EBB program. You can only claim one internet-connected device per household. (Remember that tablet deal we mentioned? Keep reading!)

Future of the Program

While the EBB program can provide some much-needed assistance to families in need during the coronavirus crisis, it’s not a long-term support option. This program is designated to run only until the money runs out; beyond that, it will require specific support from Congress to extend it.

The EBB program will expire when funds are exhausted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declares the end of the COVID-19 health emergency.

Get Free Internet for Low-Income Families

These days, internet access is more than just a handy way to stream movies and check social media. It’s integral to how we live, work, and learn, and the Emergency Broadband Benefit program helps people get the connectivity they need.

For a Limited Time: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 10 GB of Data

Qualifying customers who sign up for Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program with StandUp Wireless now get more benefits than ever before:

  • More data means more email, more video conferencing, more Internet!
  • Fast, flexible 5G Network
  • Mobile hotspot included means you can connect other devices to your StandUp Service
  • Cellular Connectivity lets you take internet anywhere there is coverage

Get a Tablet for $10.01

Here’s that tip: Now for a limited time, get an 8” tablet for just $10.01 when you qualify and sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program! Once you’re approved for the program, we’ll send you a separate email to unlock your one-time discount on a brand new tablet.

Click here to get started!

(EBB program benefits may be obtained from any participating provider of your choosing and your monthly service benefit may be transferred to another provider at any time.)