The Emergency Broadband Benefit Can Transform AAPI Communities
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare just how critical broadband access is to our everyday lives. This is especially true for Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Asian American unemployment rates are higher than their white counterparts, Asian students returning to in-person learning at lower rates due to fears of anti-Asian hate, and Pacific Islanders remain one of the most at-risk ethnic groups dying from COVID-19. Without reliable, high-speed internet access, accessing unemployment benefits, online learning, or healthcare becomes all the more out of reach. The digital divide in our communities is clearer now than ever before, and we cannot ignore the gap any longer.
Children without internet connections were not able to attend virtual school. Families without internet connections are locked out from applying for benefits, working remotely, staying connected with loved ones, and more.
To help close the connectivity gap, Congress authorized the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a program designed to give eligible and low-income families discounted internet service and subsidized internet-enabled devices.
The EBB can provide eligible families with:
- Up to $50/month discount for broadband service;
- Up to $75/month discount for households on qualifying tribal lands; and
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating Internet Service Provider (ISP) if the household contributes more than $10 but less than $50 toward the purchase price.
Recent data show that still less than 20 percent of eligible families nationwide are enrolled. That means as many as 36 million families are forgoing assistance to help pay for their internet connections.
Getting the Word Out:
To ensure continued progress in getting more families in our communities to sign up, we need local government, elected officials, community organizations, and community leaders to step up and help get out the word – including in English and other relevant languages pertinent to our communities. This means using both existing official channels like press releases, posts on official social media accounts, and discussion with media, and grassroots channels like community networks, faith-based organizations, and on-the-ground organizing. Only by using every available channel can we ensure that as many eligible families as possible are aware of the program and enroll. We are asking for your support ensuring members of our communities are aware of this opportunity and get connected to broadband as soon as possible during these unparalleled times.
More information on the program, instructions on how to sign up, and eligibility criteria can be found at GetEmergencyBroadband.org or by calling (833) 511-0311.
For resources to help spread awareness of the program, please consider this toolkit. For additional information refer to the FCC website, which is also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese, and Korean. Consumer handouts and the fact sheet are also available in Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Chinese-Traditional, Chinese-Simplified, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. You can review the toolkit here.