Michiganders are eligible to receive discounts on internet service and devices.
LANSING, Mich. – Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II and the Connecting Michigan Taskforce are encouraging Michigan families to sign up for a new federal program to help lower the cost of high speed internet service, which has begun enrolling participants today.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new program from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is making $3.2 billion available nationwide for eligible households to receive discounts of up to $50 per month on internet service, or up to $75 per month for qualifying households on Tribal lands. In addition, some internet service providers will also provide a one-time $100 discount toward the purchase of a computer, laptop or tablet.
“With children learning online and parents working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how great the need for reliable and affordable high-speed internet access is in Michigan, just as it is everywhere in our country,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “Internet service is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. I’m committed to making sure that we level the playing field so that everyone in our state has an equal opportunity to take advantage of online resources and participate fully in our society and economy. We are working on getting the word out about the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to both broadband providers and residents across Michigan to ensure that every eligible household in our state has an opportunity to take advantage of this tremendous federal resource.”
A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as 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 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.
In addition to the federal program, more than $20 million in Connecting Michigan Communities (CMIC) grants have been awarded by the Whitmer Administration to help bring service to approximately 12,000 homes and businesses, and additional grants are expected to be announced in June 2021. The economic impact of the CMIC grants is projected to exceed $25 million.
Michigan has experienced tremendous success in securing federal resources to help expand internet access in our state. Over the past year, providers in our state have secured more than $22.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Broadband ReConnect Program, $1.8 million from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) COVID-19 Telehealth Program, and $363 million from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Program.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit that launched today is one of several important federal initiatives designed to improve connectivity. On Monday, May 10, the FCC voted unanimously in favor of the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which will provide $7.1 billion nationwide to help schools and libraries improve access to internet service. In addition, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will soon begin taking applications for three national grant programs that were established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and will collectively award more than $1.6 billion to improve access, adoption, and digital literacy. The Whitmer Administration continues to work to ensure that Michigan takes full advantage of these federal resources, as well as the State and Local Recovery Funds that were made available through the American Rescue Plan, to help ensure that every home and business in Michigan can connect to reliable, affordable high-speed internet service.
Beginning May 12, 2021, eligible households can enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) at getemergencybroadband.org. Mail-in applications will also be available. Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week.
To learn more about the Connecting Michigan Task Force and related initiatives in Michigan, visit michiganbusiness.org/broadband.