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Low-income broadband service program to continue

A program providing discounts on broadband internet service for low-income families will continue into 2022.

The Affordable Connectivity Program will begin throughout the country in 2022 and will modify the current Emergency Broadband Benefit Program using federal funding through an infrastructure passage recently passed in the U.S. Congress.

According to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, while about 17,000 Hawaii households are enrolled in the EBB, more than 100,000 households could be eligible for the ACP.

Many of the EBB’s terms will carry over to the ACP, with some changes. Although the EBB provides a $50 discount on monthly internet service bills, the ACP’s discount is only $30 per month. However, the ACP can serve households with incomes of up to 200% of the federal poverty level, while the EBB only serves households up to 135% of the poverty level.

The EBB’s device credit will remain unchanged, with eligible households receiving a one-time discount of up to $100 toward the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers.

A household is eligible to apply for the ACP if one member of the household meets any of the following criteria: receives benefits from Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit; qualifies for participation in the federal Lifeline program; receives free or reduced-price school lunches; has received a Federal Pell Grant in the current year; is eligible for a participating provider’s existing low-income program; or receives assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children.

“The transition to the Affordable Connectivity Program through the Congress Infrastructure Bill establishes a more permanent program to address the cost of internet services for our local ohana who otherwise may not be able to afford it,” said Burt Lum, Broadband Strategy Officer for the Hawaii Broadband &Digital Equity Office, in a statement. “This new, longer-term program brings us another step towards achieving digital equity in Hawaii and most importantly, has the potential to help thousands of kamaaina residents have access to the digital world.”

More details, including a list of participating providers, can be found at tinyurl.com/2p8mfc3t.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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