North Texans in need can use program to help pay for internet and computers

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is giving money to families who need a little help.

It's meant for people who cannot typically afford internet, or were affected financially by the pandemic. 

This program will provide consumers with substantial discounts on broadband service and computers.

It's open to those who suffered a large loss in income during the pandemic due to job loss or furlough, along with those who meet financial guidelines.

"I think it's going to be extremely beneficial," Eric Betley said.

Betley is one of millions of Americans who have been working from home over the past year due to the pandemic.

"One day we're in the office, the next day we're working directly from home conducting all our business, emails, video conference, etc.," he said.

His costly home internet connection has become his lifeline.

"The amount of bandwidth at home definitely increased because of big files we're dealing with," he added.

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help people in financial need with $3.2 billion in funds.

The FCC acting chairwoman explained why it’s needed.

"The pandemic proved broadband is not nice to have, it’s need to have," Jessica Rosenworcel said.

Eligible households will be able to receive a discount of up to $50 per month on their broadband bill.

They will also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a computer or tablet from participating providers 

"That's going to provide invaluable benefit over time," Dr. Timothy Bray said.

Dr. Bray is the director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research at UT Dallas.

He said the program, which is open to people on food stamps, those with a child in free or reduced-price school lunch programs, those who use Medicaid, or lost income during the pandemic, will help close the digital divide.

"This program makes better service available so that these families can participate in the digital economy and the digital classroom," he explained. "I do think there is a chance for us here to put our tax dollars to work where they'll have the most good."

Eric Betley agrees.

"Having that little help financially will help your day-to-day better, and relieve a lot of stress, especially this time and age," Betley said.

The program is open until funds run out, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic. 

Click here for more information on the program.