66K Puerto Rico households have signed up for FCC broadband subsidy program
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed that 65,868 households in Puerto Rico have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit subsidy program initiated by Congress earlier this year.
Since mid-May, more than 2.3 million households in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and American Samoa were approved to receive a discount on their monthly internet bills and have selected a participating EBB provider to receive internet service at home. The program provides a monthly discount of up to $50 on broadband, as well as telephony services if bundled with internet.
In the USVI, a total of 113 households have signed up, according to the federal agency.
In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress appropriated $3.2 billion to the FCC to help low-income households pay for broadband service and connected internet devices.
Households can qualify several ways, such as through their use of existing assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline or if a child received reduced-price school meals programs in the last two school years.
The EBB is also available to households that are eligible for a broadband provider’s existing COVID relief program, to those who have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year, and to those low-income households that suffered a significant loss in income during the pandemic due to job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020, the FCC confirmed.
The agency’s data also shows that there are 55 telecom providers offering subsidized fixed and mobile broadband access in Puerto Rico. USVI residents have nine providers to choose from. The benefit is available to eligible new, prior, and existing customers of participating providers.
“I am thrilled to see that the great need for affordable broadband support is being met with over 2 million households enrolled in three short weeks. I’ve also said we need good data to know how the program is progressing and to inform any long-term efforts to address broadband affordability. This information is now available to the public as we always intended,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, in a statement.
Liberty gets 15K applications so far
In related news, Liberty Puerto Rico announced that the FCC approved additional offers, allowing program participants to choose among offers that include the company’s internet, video and telephony services combinations.
“Program participation has been very robust, with over 15,000 applications so far,” said Naji Khoury, Liberty Puerto Rico’s president. “We anticipate that now, with a broader selection of offers and services available through the EBB program, more customers will be able to get the services they need as they recover from the pandemic’s financial impact.”
The new offers that Liberty has added to the EBB program include different video converter equipment options such as DVRs and Hub TV, plus television packages such as Español de Primera and U-Pick.