KLYQ: Federal help for Montana residential broadband costs

by Steve Fullerton

Hooking up to the web will be less costly for some households. The Federal Communications Commission is accepting applications from eligible households for discounts up to $50 per month for broadband services and up to $75 per month for tribal homes. There’s also a one-time $100 discount for purchase of a web-enabled computer, tablet or laptop.

Montana Senator Jon Tester announced the plan this week. His news release detailed who is eligible for the assistance.

  • Has an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program.
  • Approved to receive benefits under the school lunch or school breakfast program in either of the last two school years.
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
  • Had a substantial loss of income because of job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and a total household income of less than $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.
  • Meets the eligibility requirements for existing low-income or COVID-19 programs.

Tester said, “Affordable, reliable broadband isn’t a luxury in the 21st century – it’s a necessity. This pandemic has underscored the urgent need for folks to get and stay connected as families have navigated the challenging realities of working and learning from home. This critical program will allow more Montanans access to broadband services and help close the digital divide, once and for all.” He said signup is being done online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org