Affordable broadband is the number one reason for lack of broadband adoption. Successful interventions address “ability to pay” rather than “willingness to pay”. Below are programs that provide affordable broadband options both nationally and in Maine.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
What Is the Benefit?
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program includes:
- Up to $50/month discount for broadband services;
- Up to $75/month discount for broadband services for households on Tribal lands; and
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.
- The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per eligible household.
Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit?
A household is eligible if one member of the household:
- Qualifies for the Lifeline program, including those who are on Medicaid or receive SNAP benefits;
- Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
How Do I Enroll?
Enrollment in the Emergency Broadband Benefit began on May 12, 2021. There are three ways eligible households can enroll:
- Directly with a local participating provider. The FCC maintains a list of participating providers, sorted by state and territory.
- Enroll online with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) at their website www.getemergencybroadband.org. (The enrollment button will not be live until May 12th).
- Or download a paper application at the www.getemergencybroadband.org site, fill out the application, and mail it – along with supporting documentation – to USAC.
If you or someone you know needs assistance with enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, please contact us at (207) 259-5010 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Maine Affordable Broadband Options
The following providers have programs that offer low-cost broadband:
Consolidated Communications, Inc. (CCI) offers a Lifeline Program for eligible low income residential subscribers at their primary residence. The Lifeline Program is a government benefit program.
- Charter Communication’s Spectrum Internet Assist:
Charter Communications/Spectrum offers a low-cost internet option. One or more members of the household must be a recipient of one of the following assistance programs:
- National School Lunch Program
- Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program
- Supplemental Security Income for applicants 65 years old and older
The low-cost broadband option is available for eligible homes at $14.99 per month for a 30/4 Mbps connection. This includes a modem at no extra cost, and free self-install.
- Other providers:
Other local Maine providers that participate in Lifeline Support may offer discounted broadband. Lifeline is the FCC’s program to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. Lifeline provides subscribers a discount on monthly telephone service, broadband Internet access service, or voice-broadband bundled service purchased from participating providers.