Emergency Broadband Benefit

What Is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)?

EBB offers a temporary discount of up to $50 per month for low-income families and people who have lost a job, been furloughed, or applied for or received unemployment during the Covid pandemic. The $50 benefit can cover the entire monthly cost of home broadband. One EBB discount is available per household.

EBB is a temporary program that will last until federal funding runs out or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic is over. There are no long-term contracts required. Providers must get consent to continue providing service after EBB ends so families will not be charged if the EBB ends. Enrolled families will receive a notice 2 months and 1 month before the program ends. In addition, the State of Maryland, has approved additional funding to continue at least a $15 a month discount for one additional year after EBB ends.

What Broadband Providers are Participating in EBB?

The following providers are offering service in Montgomery County. This list may be periodically updated.

You can also use the FCC Companies Near Me tool to find providers by state. You may click on the providers underlined below to reach their EBB promotional pages.

Company Broadband Service Type Offering Device? (Laptop, Desktop, or Tablet) Type of Device offered Refurbished Broadband Capacity
Major Cable & Internet Providers
Comcast Fixed Broadband No     Robust Broadband
RCN Fixed Broadband No     Robust Broadband
Verizon fios Fixed Broadband  No     Robust Broadband
T-Mobile Fixed Broadband  YES Tablets (limited supply) No Good for 1-2 people
Major Wireless Providers
T-Mobile Mobile Broadband YES Tablets (limited supply) No Good for 1-2 people
Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband No     Robust Broadband
Other Providers
Access Wireless Mobile Broadband No Smartphones Yes Low-Bandwidth Broadband
American Assistance and You Call Wireless Mobile Broadband YES TBD TBD Low-Bandwidth Broadband
good2go mobile Mobile Broadband No No No Low-Bandwidth Broadband
human-I-T Mobile Broadband YES Chromebooks Yes Low-Bandwidth Broadband
Sano Health Mobile Broadband No Smartphone No Low-Bandwidth Broadband
StandUp Wireless Mobile Broadband YES Tablets Vortex Tab 8 Sky Elite 8 NUU Tab 8 No Low-Bandwidth Broadband (10G)

Am I Eligible for EBB?

Low-income households are eligible. A “household” is a group of people who live together and share money (even if they are not related to each other). Each household is eligible for a separate EBB. For example, an adult living with someone else who supports him would together be a household, as is a parent and child living together, or a couple living together. In contrast, four roommates living together but not sharing money would be four separate households. In addition, any eligible member of a household makes the entire household eligible. For example, a child or senior enrolled in program that is part of EBB makes the entire household eligible for EBB. Also, when a child shares time living in two households, such as when divorced parents share custody but live at different houses, both households may qualify for EBB.

Households are eligible for EBB if they meet one of the following conditions:

  1. They are enrolled in one of the following programs:
    • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
    • National School Lunch Program (often called Free and Reduced Meals in Montgomery County Public Schools)
    • Medicaid
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance (OBP is working to get more information – only federal public housing assistance, not state housing assistance qualifies for EBB. Non-federal, local housing program participants likely will not qualify for EBB on this basis, but could qualify under other programs.)
    • Pell Grants
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Veterans Administration Pension or Survivors Benefits
    • Tribal Assistance (Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needed Families (TA-TANF, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance (GA), Tribal Head Start, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR))
    • Lifeline Program
    • A low-cost internet program (such as from Internet Essentials from Comcast, Internet First from RCN, or Lifeline through Verizon, T-Mobile or other carrier)
  2. They have lost a job, been furloughed, or applied for or received unemployment benefits any time after February 2020 and their 2020 income was $99,000 or less as a single tax filer, or $198,000 or less as a married couple. If you applied for unemployment but did not receive an award, you may still qualify under this provision.
  3. Their income is less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines
    • $17,226 for a household of 1
    • $23,274 for a household of 2
    • $29,322 for a household of 3
    • Or $6,048 more for each additional household member

How Do I Apply for EBB

You may apply online, by telephone, or by mail. It will be easier and faster if you can get access to apply online, but you must have an email address to apply online. Montgomery County will be organizing events to provide access to computers to enable enrollment online, and residents may make appointments to use computers in libraries to apply.

If a household is already enrolled in a low-cost Internet program (such as Comcast Internet Essentials, RCN Internet First, or Lifeline with Verizon or a telephone company), they should contact their provider and request the EBB benefit.

For all other households there is a three-step process:

  1. Go to the National Verifier website https://www.getemergencybroadband.org/ and follow the instructions. Most applicants should be prepared to upload a document showing current enrollment (such as an award, enrollment, or certification letter showing eligibility for housing and lunch programs, or enrollment in SNAP or other programs). If applying between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm ET, an Application ID Number will be generated within 2-3 minutes. If documents need to be review, the system will generate an Application ID and not wait until review is complete to issue this number.
  2. Contact a broadband provider, select a plan, make an installation appointment, and receive an Account Number. Comcast, RCN, Verizon fios, and T-Mobile are participating. Other providers offering lower speed wireless broadband (with some also offering EBB program smartphones, tablets, or Chromebooks for an additional payment of more than $10 and less than $50) include You Call Wireless, StandUp Wireless, human-I-T, Access Wireless, Sano Health, and good2go mobile.
  3. Use the broadband provider’s customer service telephone representative or website to opt in and request the EBB credit using the new Account Number and Application ID Number. This can usually be done at the end of signing up for broadband service, but it needs to be completed to get the EBB credit.

How to Use the National Verifier and What Additional Documents are Required

Go to https://GetEmergencyBroadband.Org and click on "Apply Now."

  • Enter name
  • Enter date of birth
  • Enter last four digits of Social Security Number (SSN). Note, you do not need a SNN to apply. You may use a passport driver’s license, military or state ID, or taxpayer ID number instead of an SSN. Enter “0000” for as the last four digits of the Social Security Number (SSN) to use an alternate ID. You will need to upload a copy of the alternate ID.
  • Enter home address. If you are homeless, you may enter the address of a support organization as your address.
  • If you qualify through a dependent child, enter your child’s information.
  • You will be asked to set up an account by choosing a user name and password. You must enter an email address.
  • Check the box that you are not a robot.
  • Click Submit.
  • Go to Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and click “get started”
  • Select the program you are enrolled in or condition that makes you eligible for EBB. (You may select more than one.)
  • Review your name, date of birth, SSN number, and address. Make corrections if necessary.
  • Confirm your address and location on map.
  • Confirm your household information.
  • Type your initials into boxes to acknowledge you agree with the EBB eligibility conditions (3 questions).
  • THE NEXT SCREENS ARE WHERE YOU WILL ENTER DOCUMENTS TO DEMONSTRATE ELIGIBILITY. Don’t be alarmed to read “We Didn’t Recognize Your Information” or “We Could Not Confirm That You Qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit”.

    The National Verifier is designed to look information from other databases to confirm that you are enrolled in a program. But at this time, the system can only look up participants in the Lifeline, Medicaid, and VA programs.

    IF YOU ARE QUALIFYING FOR EBB BY BEING ENROLLED IN ANY OTHER PROGRAM, ARE QUALIFYING BASED ON INCOME, OR HAVE AN ALTERNATE FORM OF ID, YOU WILL REACH THESE PAGES AND WILL NEED TO UPLOAD ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION. (Don’t worry! Don’t give up! Everything will be alright)

    BE PREPARED – HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS READY. Below is short chart of what documents are needed or use this list. Use links below to get more specific information.

    For program eligibility, what you need is an eligibility or certification letter with your name, the program name, the government or educational entity issuing the letter, something stating you are eligible for a program, and it should have an issue date within the last 12 months (with exceptions for SNAP and Pell Grants).

    For income verification, you need a 2020 tax return, income statement from employer, paycheck stub, unemployment benefit statement, divorce or child support award containing income information. If you are qualifying because of a job loss, you must demonstrate evidence of the job loss and that your income was less than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 for married couples). If are qualify on the basis of low-income alone, you must demonstrate your income is less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

    Program That Makes Household Eligible for EBB What Additional Documentation Must Be Uploaded
    SNAP Eligibility letter issued in last 12 months
    NSLP (school lunch) Eligibility letter from school for 2019-20 or 2020-21 school year. (If your child qualify for free school lunch because the majority of students qualify for free lunch and thus all students qualify for free lunch – the system may be able to look up these schools without additional documentation.)
    Medicaid Additional documents should not be required
    Federal Public Housing Assistance You can only use federal not state (or presumably local) housing assistance. Award letter stating award amount or public housing assistance lease agreement that has type of Public Housing Assistance credit used.
    Pell Grants Award letter for the current school year, but you can also use screen shots of National Student Loan Data System or FAFSA dashboard, or a copy of the email sent by the Department of Education about the EBB Program
    Veterans Administration Pension Additional documents should not be required
    Veterans Administration Survivors Benefit Additional documents should not be required
    SSI Eligibility letter issued in last 12 months
    Tribal assistance (TA-TANF, BIA GA, Tribal Head Start, FDPIR) Eligibility letter issued in last 12 months
    Income 135% of the federal poverty guidelines: Less than $17,226/year for household of 1; less than $23,274 for 2; less than $29,322 for 3; greater than $35,370 for 4; add $6,048 for each additional household member Tax return, income statement from employer, paycheck stub, unemployment benefit statement, divorce or child support award containing income information
    Job loss, furlough/layoff, or applied for or received unemployment benefits any time after February 2020 AND 2020 income was $99,000 or less as a single tax filer, or $198,000 or less as a married couple Layoff/furlough notice or unemployment application, approval letter, or benefit statement; AND income document (2020 tax return; benefit statement from Social Security, VA, retirement or pension, or unemployment or Worker’s Compensation; divorce or child support award containing income information
  • Initial (again!, yes again!) that you understand the EBB program rules and have been truthful. Then click SUBMIT!
  • If you apply between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm ET (7 days a week), wait 2 to 3 minutes, and then a screen will appear providing you with an APPLICATION ID Number. SAVE THIS NUMBER! You will need it when you sign up for broadband.
  • If you need assistance:
    • Emergency Broadband Support Center | (833) 511-0311 | EBBHelp@usac.org
      Available 7 days a week between 9 am and 9 pm ET
    • Use this Form to get help from the Office of Broadband Programs, Community Technology division

Lifeline and EBB

Lifeline is program that offers eligible participants a $9.25 discount on telephone or broadband service. You may participate in both Lifeline and EBB to get up to $59.25. To apply for Lifeline, go to the National Verifier. Sign into your National Verifier account. On the Welcome Screen, select “Start Lifeline Application.” You will be able to qualify for Lifeline and EBB if you qualify through participation in the following programs and income levels:

  • SNAP
  • Medicaid
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veterans Administration Pension
  • Veterans Administration Survivors Benefit
  • Tribal assistance (TA-TANF, BIA GA, Tribal Head Start, FDPIR)

What Broadband Programs Are Less Than $50 per Month?

Broadband Programs for Everyone Priced Around $50 per month

  • Verizon fios offers 200 Mbps up and down for $54.99 per month if you enroll in autopay. Price includes equipment but not taxes. There is $99 setup fee that will be waived if you order online. Offer may require a deposit.
  • Comcast Xfinity offers 100 Mbps up and down for $44.94 for 1 year. Price includes equipment but not taxes. Plan is $10 more per month if customer does not enroll in autopay and paperless billing.
  • RCN offers two plans: Up to 300 Mbps for $42.00 per month. Price includes equipment but not taxes. No contract required, no data cap, and next day install.

Low-Cost Broadband Plans for Low-income Families

Comcast Xfinity, RCN Starpower, Verizon Fios, and others offer low-cost home broadband programs for low-income families. Additional information is available here:

  • FIOS- 200 mbps | 39.99 w/ autopay + taxes and equip| $15 p/ router fee applies and $99 setup fee| may require a deposit| setup fee is waived for online orders
  • Xfinity- 100 mbps| $29.99 w/ autopay| Offer ends 06/01/21. Restrictions apply. Not available in all areas. New residential customers only| 12 months w no term agreement | online exclusive price. $14.95 equip fee p/m
  • RCN- up to 50 mbps | $22.00 + taxes and equip.| no contract req
  • RCN- up to 300 mbps | $32.00 + taxes and equip. | no contract, no data caps, no contact next day install | internet special | $10 p/m equip. fee
  • Verizon Wireless – 200 Mbps | $19.99 Per month w. Lifeline approval, Auto Pay + taxes & equip. | $15 a month router charges | $99 setup and taxes & terms may apply | Setup charge waived for online orders
  • Verizon Wireless – 400 Mbps | $39.99 per month w/ Lifeline approval, Auto Pay + taxes & equip.| Offer valid for new eligible customers until 7.21.21 | $99 setup and taxes & terms may apply | Setup charge waived for online orders | Comes with Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) and Blink Mini devices given by Verizon and redeemed on Amazon.com
  • AT&T - $65 per month | Unlimited talk, text and data | 5G included
  • AT&T - $75 per month | Unlimited talk, text and data + 50 GB Premium data
  • T-Mobile - $60 per month with Autopay plus taxes & fees | Unlimited talk & text + 50 GB Premium data | Unlimited mobile hotspot data at 3G speed

Comparison of Eligibility Criteria for Low-Cost Plans and Eligibility for EBB

Low-income Families Eligible If Enrolled in the Following Programs: VERIZON Federal Lifeline COMCAST Internet Essentials RCN Internet First Emergency Broadband Benefit
Veterans Administration Pension Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tribal assistance (including TTANF FDPIR) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pell Grants (student education) Yes   Yes Yes
Veterans Administration Survivors Benefit Yes     Yes
WIC (food assistance) Yes Yes Yes  
TANF (temporary assistance) Yes Yes Yes  
Headstart   Yes Yes  
SSI (Supplemental Security Income)   Yes Yes  
LIHEAP (energy assistance)   Yes Yes  

Frequently Asked Questions

Please submit questions to OBP@montgomerycountymd.gov and we will update this section with responses.

Materials to Learn More About and Promote EBB

The Office of Broadband Programs (OBP) is available to provide speakers and is working with ConnectedDMV to provide “Train the Trainer” trainings for staff, volunteers, and case workers that want to better understand how to enroll residents in EBB. Send an email to OBP@montgomerycountymd.gov.

To sign up for periodic updates about EBB and enrollment events, send an email to ellejames@connecteddmv.org.

OBP is working on developing Montgomery County specific promotion materials. The FCC has a toolkit of promotional materials in multiple languages available here.

Presentations

EBB Kickoff

Upcoming Events