CT Residents Without Internet Could Gain Access Through FCC Program
Thursday, June 24, 2021
HARTFORD, Conn. - Even as economic recovery from the pandemic continues, more than 116 million U.S. residents had difficulty paying household bills in the first week of June, according to a Census Survey.
To help people afford high-speed internet, the Federal Communications Commission has set up an Emergency Broadband Benefit that also will benefit Connecticut residents.
The $3.2 billion program helps reduce prices for high-speed internet services to people who have experienced financial setbacks during the pandemic or are struggling to get by. John Erlingheuser, director of advocacy and outreach with AARP Connecticut, said affordability is a huge issue.
"The internet cost is not regulated," said Erlingheuser. "So it's what the market will bear and, you know, so there's two issues in Connecticut in certain areas, there's just access in general. And then there's affordability."
He said areas of the state such as Litchfield County particularly lack broadband access.
Folks who qualify include people who participate in certain federal benefits programs, such as Medicaid and SNAP, and households that experienced a substantial loss of income because of the pandemic.
The FCC has a list of participating service providers and people can apply through them.
Erlingheuser noted that a bill that just passed in the General Assembly will help the state tackle mapping of where access to broadband isn't available.
"A different pot of federal money through the American Rescue Plan," said Erlingheuser, "will make grants available to either municipalities, government agencies or providers that exists to build out that high-speed internet in those underserved areas."
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is available now and offers up to $50 per month off internet services and up to $75 per month off for households on tribal lands. To learn more, call 1-833-511-0311, or visit aarp.org/EBB.
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