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The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) Program The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) Program

The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) Program

Affordability, both of available service and the devices that connect the user to the service, has long been a predominant reason why households that have broadband available do not subscribe. Stories of individuals traveling to and from public library facilities in order to apply for jobs and of students completing their homework at fast food restaurants or sitting outside major retailers in order to have access to high-speed connectivity became even more problematic with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when such institutions were temporarily or permanently forced to close their doors.

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (“EBB Program” or “EBB”) was created by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 in order to help lower costs of at-home broadband connectivity during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.[1] Under the EBB Program, eligible consumers can receive monthly discounts for at-home broadband services and a one-time discount on a device, such as a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer, through a participating provider.

There are two categories of broadband providers who are eligible to participate in the EBB Program: (1) eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”), which do not need to seek approval from the FCC in order to participate in the EBB; and (2) non-ETCs, (i.e., all other broadband providers), which must receive FCC approval in order to participate in the EBB Program.[2]

On March 4, 2021, the FCC released a Public Notice (“PN”) announcing the initial milestones for broadband provider participation in the EBB Program.[3] According to the PN, the non-ETC provider application portal for those seeking approval from the FCC prior to the commencement of household enrollments in the EBB Program will open with the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) on March 8, 2021 and close on March 22, 2021.

To assist with the approval process, the Bureau has created a webpage, available at: It is important that non-ETC providers review all applicable requirements and procedures in advance of applying to the EBB.

Greg Dunn, Chris Miller, and Lindsay Miller are attorneys in Ice Miller’s Public Affairs and Government Law Group, each with a focus on broadband and technology. Read more about Ice Miller’s Broadband and Telecommunications Industry Group here.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
[1] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116-260, div. N, tit. IX, § 904, 134 Stat. 1182, 2130 (2020), available at (Consolidated Appropriations Act).
[2] See Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, WC Docket No. 20-445, Report and Order, FCC 21-29 (2021) (EBB Program Order).
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