Frankfort, KY – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear encouraged eligible Kentuckians to apply for a newly available discount through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help temporarily reduce their cost of home internet services.
The $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program, established by Congress last year in response to ongoing economic hardships caused by the pandemic, provides a temporary discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households. The benefit also provides discounts up to $100 per household toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop or tablet, if the household contributes more than $10 but less than $50 toward its purchase from a participating broadband provider.
“Now more than ever, Kentuckians need reliable internet access to stay informed and connected to school, work, family, church, health care and other critical services,” said Gov. Beshear. “By providing some temporary financial assistance, this program may be what allows eligible Kentuckians to retain their service and remain online as we defeat COVID-19.”
Kentuckians can apply today through participating broadband providers or at getemergencybroadband.org.
Discounts will continue until all funding is exhausted, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic.
A household is eligible if one member of the family meets at least one of the criteria below:
Has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
Is 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 reduction in income through job loss or furlough since Feb. 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.
Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. EDT any day of the week.
Russell County Schools Superintendent Michael Ford said all students in Russell County are eligible because Russell County is a CEP district.
In addition to today’s announcement, the Governor is preparing to expand the state’s broadband infrastructure that currently does not extend to every community, resulting in unequal opportunities among Kentuckians.
After reaching a bipartisan agreement with lawmakers and signing House Bill 320 and House Bill 382, the Governor will have more than $300 million in the Broadband Deployment Fund to begin addressing unserved and underserved communities. Combined with at least 50% required matching investments, this means a minimum of $600 million will go toward broadband expansion.
“At a minimum, $600 million will go toward broadband expansion. This investment is estimated to create over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs,” said Gov. Beshear. “Coupled with our recent broadband speed test, access mapping and the KentuckyWired project, HB 320 has the potential to push Kentucky to the forefront of broadband expansion nationwide.”
We need every Kentucky family to have access to reliable, high-speed internet access, which is critical to achieving successes in education, health care outcomes and economic growth, the Governor added.