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The COVID relief bill provides free internet access – Do you qualify?

There is no doubt that the ongoing pandemic continues to wreak havoc with people’s finances, household planning and social interactions. For that reason, the U.S. government recently passed another relief bill.

For many, this bill’s passage means a new round of stimulus checks are on the way. Tap or click here to find out when yours will arrive.

Another part of the bill includes free internet access for many U.S. households. But not everyone qualifies. Keep reading for all the important details and to see if you qualify.

Do you qualify for free internet?

Part of the bill included the Emergency Broadband Connections Act of 2020. The Act makes funds available to expand broadband access to students, families and unemployed workers.

It includes $3.2 billion for the newly created Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The benefit’s strategy is to provide free, or at least low-cost, broadband service access to low-income families. This will also include those who were recently laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19.

Eligible households will receive a $50 discount for the cost of internet connectivity. Under Section 904 of the Program, you can qualify for $50 relief funds if you meet any of the following requirements:

  • You lost your job or have reduced wages since Feb. 29, 2020
  • Your household includes children that qualify for the free or reduced lunch program
  • Pell grant recipients
  • Recently laid off or furloughed workers
  • The household includes an individual who qualifies for a Lifeline program like
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
    • Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance
    • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • An individual who qualifies for a low-income or COVID-19 discount program offered by internet service providers

You can check if you qualify for any Lifeline program through the Lifeline National Verifier.

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The Program is already active

Mobile internet provider Q Link Wireless has already opened its application program for qualifying people. Through its offering, you will get:

  • Unlimited mobile data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Free phone activation and SIM Card

Q Link Wireless founder Issa Asad stated that roughly one in three Americans could qualify for the relief benefits.

“We need to get the word out to the nearly 1 in 3 Americans who now qualify for free mobile internet so they know we can enroll them and get them connected immediately. This means access to health care, learning, and jobs for millions of vulnerable Americans,” he said in a press release.

To participate in the $50 rebate program, carriers do not have to be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier. The service provider only needs to provide the FCC with evidence that:

  • The applying family qualifies
  • Won’t be liable to pay an early termination fee
  • Not be subject to a mandatory waiting period
  • The applicant will be subject to the provider’s generally applicable terms and conditions

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In addition to the $3.2 billion for free mobile and broadband access, the bill also includes:

  • $300 million for rural broadband
  • $250 million for FCC’s telehealth program
  • $285 million to fund a pilot program to assist with broadband issues for historically black colleges and universities
  • $1 billion in grants for tribal broadband programs

The government will also spend $1.9 billion under Section 906, entitled Appropriations for Federal Communications Commission Activities. This is to “rip and replace” all the Chinese-made Huawei and ZTE technology used in U.S. networks.

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