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FCC expands local broadband access with discounted internet bills

Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

The Federal Communications Commission is offering a direct benefit program for the first time that offers a discount for internet service.

The Affordable Connectivity Program gives $30 a month for internet service bills to eligible low-income households. Families living on Hawaiian Home Lands can receive up to $75 a month.

The program received over $14 billion and is available until funds last.

There are currently over 29,000 participating in ACP in Hawaiʻi. But there are over 160,000 eligible households in Hawaiʻi who are not enrolled.

"Both the major internet providers in Hawaiʻi — Hawaiian Telecom and Spectrum — both offer as a result of this a pretty good robust broadband service for $29.99. Basically $30. And with the qualifying benefit, you basically get free internet service," said Burt Lum, the state’s Broadband Strategy Officer and host of HPR’s Bytemarks Cafe.

Hawaiʻi households are eligible to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program if one member of the household:

  • Receives benefits from one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
  • Qualifies for participation in the Lifeline program (with the modification that the qualifying household income threshold is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of that size)
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school breakfast or lunch programs
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program
  • Receives assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

To sign up, visit acpbenefit.org.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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