Congress has passed several rounds of financial assistance and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including most recently the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law on March 11, 2021.
If you have further questions regarding the program or the status of a pending application, contact the Emergency Broadband Support Center: Email at EBBHelp@usac.org or call for assistance at (833) 511-0311.
The bill provides $7.2 in additional funding through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) universal service schools and libraries program (also known as the E-Rate).
This funding can be distributed to public and private schools and public libraries to purchase Internet access and connected devices (including hotspots, routers, modems and computers) for students, educators and library patrons who lack home Internet access, a connected device, or both. Schools and libraries would be eligible to purchase eligible services and equipment for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic plus at least one year.
Schools and libraries would be reimbursed through the program for 100% of the costs associated with the eligible services and equipment.
The FCC will likely issue rules regarding this additional funding in May 2021.
A new $3.2 billion program to provide a monthly broadband benefit to low-income households during the pandemic was secured in the bipartisan government funding legislation. This new program was based off of the Senator Baldwin-supported Emergency Broadband Connections Act, which will now provide a $50/month benefit to workers who have been laid off or furloughed during the pandemic, along with a range of other assistance to ensure families can access critical online services.
Among the bipartisan reforms included in the final government funding bill was the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, legislation cosponsored by Senator Baldwin to foster the development and growth of broadband resources for businesses as well as underserved urban and rural communities in Wisconsin, and throughout the country.
This reform will require the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This will help streamline processes for local businesses to access federal broadband resources through a simplified application process and better oversight of federal broadband support programs.
The year-end, bipartisan government funding bill includes provisions from the bipartisan Broadband Interagency Coordination Act that was cosponsored by Senator Baldwin to direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the NTIA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to better coordinate the distribution of federal funds for broadband deployment. This will ensure investments in broadband deployment are targeted to unserved and underserved areas.
In her role on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin will continue fighting for federal funding to improve internet access for Wisconsinites, regardless of their zip code. Below is a breakdown of additional federal broadband investments that were secured in the year-end, bipartisan government funding legislation.
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