Families across Hawai´i will be offered an opportunity this month to apply for a subsidy to help pay for internet services.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire has world embraced the capacity of the virtual to accomplish tasks normally completed in-person. Virtual education, health appointments and applying for government services are just a few of the ways people have leveraged digital services to outflank coronavirus. But doing so requires access to a reliable internet source, which isn’t easy for every family to come by.
“Anyone who qualifies is encouraged to apply,” said Governor David Ige. “We want to make sure that everyone in Hawai´i can get connected.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December announced its Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which is funded by $3.2 billion through the Consolidated Appropriations Act toward the purpose of creating more internet access for Americans across all 50 states.
Beginning May 12, eligible households can apply for $50 in assistance per month to help pay for an internet connection. Those living on Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) property may qualify for up to $75 in assistance per month. All eligible households may also receive a one-time device credit of up to $100 from their internet services providers to purchase a laptop, tablet or desktop capable of connecting to the internet, if the family contributes $10 to the initial cost.
The state of Hawai´i believes that approximately 200,000 households across the islands may qualify for the program. There are several factors that qualify a family including if members have been enrolled in Medicaid, been the recipients of SNAP benefits, have school-aged children who take part in free- or reduced-lunch programs, or those who have suffered a substantial loss of income and are on unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hawai‘i households are also eligible to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program if one member of the household does any of the following:
- Qualifies for the FCC Lifeline program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Filed for unemployment or PUA or experienced a loss of hours in the last year
The program is limited to one monthly service discount per household. Funding is limited, though the state believes up to $40 million will be available for families in the Hawaiian Islands and that the life of the program will probably last between four and six months.
The participating Hawai‘i internet service providers for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program currently include:
- American Broadband and Telecommunications Company
- Charter Spectrum
- Cricket Wireless
- Hawaii Dialogix Telecom
- Hawaiian Telcom
- Selectel Wireless
Beginning on May 12, Hawai‘i households can apply for the program in three ways:
- Contact their internet service provider directly to learn about its application process and what benefits are offered
- Apply online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org
- Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application and mail it with your proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081 London, KY 40742
“Now more than ever, internet access has become essential for every household,” said Burt Lum, strategic officer, for the Hawai‘i Broadband Initiative, State of Hawai‘i. “This new program has the potential to create more digital equity in Hawai‘i by providing our island residents who are suffering during this pandemic with the connectivity tools they need to live and thrive in today’s digital world.”
For more information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and how to apply, visit broadband.hawaii.gov/ebb.