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Unexpected Benefit of Pandemic: Broadband and Laptop Discounts

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Monday, June 14, 2021   

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new federal pandemic program is offering people who qualify $50 a month off of high speed internet service and a one-time discount on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer.

The $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program was launched in May and has already signed up more than 2.3 million households, including more than 63,000 in Indiana.

Ambre Marr, state legislative director for AARP Indiana, said broadband has become a necessity, especially during the pandemic.

"Too many people just don't have access to affordable high speed internet for their work needs, their school needs, healthcare and just, in general, to avoid isolation," Marr contended.

There are no age restrictions. To apply, go to aarp.org and search for Emergency Broadband Benefit, or text the word "internet" to the number 22777.

People who qualify for the Lifeline program, Medicaid, Snap, SSI benefits or free or reduced-price school lunches are encouraged to apply.

Marr noted the income limits are quite generous.

"Another qualifying factor was if you have experienced a substantial loss of income since February 2020," Marr explained. "And that the household had a total income in 2020 below 99,000 dollars for single filers and 198,000 for joint filers."

The temporary program will continue until the funds are exhausted. Participants will be notified 60 days before the monthly broadband discount stops.

Disclosure: AARP Indiana contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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