At give IT. get IT., we help connect people in need with the computers, technical support, and training they need to get better jobs and live more satisfying lives. Since COVID-19 struck, the number of people who need our help has quadrupled. When the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed into law in March, we were excited to hear that it would help eligible individuals or families purchase a computer and Internet access.
Specifically, a $100 one-time discount authorized by the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) for a computer.
Part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law in March, the EBB gave the FCC $230 billion to deliver two extraordinary benefits to qualifying Americans:
These are fantastic, potentially life-changing benefits for people who qualify. Since receiving discounted broadband internet access is such a significant, recurring component of the EBB, the task of spending this $230 billion windfall fell to qualifying Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
While ISPs are doing a fine job managing the broadband service portion of the EBB, they are not equipped to implement the $100 discount on a qualifying device portion of the program. As a result, billions of dollars that SHOULD be helping people in need acquire computers are being used solely for broadband internet access.
Because organizations like give IT. get IT. – or even traditional sources of computers such as Best Buy and Staples – are not ISPs; we have no way of enabling our clients/customers to access the $100 discount on the computers they need to maximize the benefit of the free internet access they’re getting. At give IT. get IT., our waiting list includes hundreds of people who qualify for EBB benefits but cannot use the $100 discount towards the purchase of a high-quality used computer from us. That’s just wrong.
Access to affordable, reliable broadband internet is essential. We’re thrilled that millions of people across the country are getting internet access for free while the funds in the $230 billion EBB last. Imagine how much more valuable and productive this free access for Americans in need will be if they have a computer instead of their phones or a tablet. They can attend online classes, earn degrees and change their lives forever.
Until there’s a way for organizations like give IT. get IT. and retail stores to process the $100 device discount, qualifying Americans will have to pay full price for their devices or go without. That’s not the intent of the EBB and we’re doing everything we can to change that.
We need the support of our representatives in Congress and the Senate to convince ISPs to share the eligibility vetting results for qualified individuals so those individuals can access the $100 computer credit from the pool of $230 billion that was intended for Internet and computer assistance, but is currently limited to just Internet. Every day that goes by means fewer dollars for devices, and when that money is gone, it’s gone.
We see the computer credit as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help people in need acquire not just the internet access they need, but also the computers, training, and support they need to change their lives as was intended.
Organizations like give IT. get IT can help millions of Americans make the absolute most of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and position themselves for brighter futures.
This problem is nationwide, so no matter where you’re reading this, please call the offices of your U.S. representatives and senators and tell them you want the EBB amended so Americans in need can access the $100 discount on computers.