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EBB glitch
  • Date: June 4, 2021
  • Category: News

There’s a glitch in the $230 Billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB)

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.

What’s the EBB?

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:

  • A discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

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).

Here’s the problem:

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.

The intent of the EBB is there, but there’s a glitch in the action plan preventing its full potential:

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’re collaborating with our longtime partners, The National Digital Equity Center, Connect ME, and others,  to inform our representatives and garner support to get the EBB amended.

What we need:

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.

If you’d like to help:

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.

Thank you!

 

47 Comments

  1. FELIX

    I applied EBB and approved
    However, never get real thing
    No broadband internet from THE CARRIER I registered and ordered
    MY BENEFIT MAIGHT BR STOLEN
    during my telephone order ( deaf using caption phone service)
    Not to.mrntion the $100 discount on PC in this program,no any retailer accept my approved EBB account ID
    It looks like joke or it only benefit the internet providers not to the people who in real need of this help
    Contact me for help

    • Jim Darroch

      Sorry to hear this, Felix. We share your frustration. Who is your internet service provider?

  2. Thomas

    This is the first artical i found that addresses this part of the ebb program I was told by my provider comcast that they are only participating in the wifi portion and that they are not offering the laptop 100. credit. I am completely blessed for what i did qualify for but they should of not included the laptop portion if they never intended to allow people to get it.

    • Jim Darroch

      Thank you, Thomas. Yes, this is a very frustrating situation that we are doing everything we can to change.

  3. KB

    I received the EBB on my home internet. I still had to pay $25 deposit, pay the first bill in full ($73) and rent their equipment ($15). I have not figured out how to buy a laptop though.

    • Jim Darroch

      Thank you, KB, for sharing the additional charges you had to pay. We sincerely appreciate your comment. It encourages us to keep pushing!

    • Jim

      Why don’t people mention who their ISPs are?

  4. Royaltii

    Yes I receive the $50 internet discount which comes in good need for my daughter online school yet the $100 off for computer the only site I see doing it is a site called PCs for people.com and very old computers no web cam or good storage

    • Jim Darroch

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Every comment helps us make a better case to help us access this $100 credit!

    • issac

      Even with Pcs for people, you have to get internet through them to get the $100 credit on pcs. so its all or nothing with them.

  5. Ally

    I’ve called every provider in my area with a “checkmark” for offering devices and none… Not a single one has desktops or laptops available for the $100 one time discount. I really thought I’d be able to get the computer from somewhere like WalMart. Pcforpeople doesn’t even let you use the $100 discount unless you have their other services

    • Jim Darroch

      We hear you, Ally. It’s extremely frustrating and we’re doing everything we can to access this $100 discount so we can offer it to potential clients like you. We’ll keep you posted!

  6. Jimmy

    I knew about this program before most people! I got a text message from q Link wireless asking if I wanted a free tablet I knew it was a catch so I started to dig and dig some more and find out about this program months before it went live!!! I’m getting four or five text messages a day from q Link asking me if I still want the tablet!!! No I don’t! Number one it’s a cheap Android tablet I would prefer a real computer and $100 off! Number two if I get the tablet it’s going to have internet on it… Well I’m already getting money off my home Wi-Fi service through the emergency broadband benefit if I accept that tablet, That emergency broadband benefit is going to pay for the internet on the tablet which I simply do not need a tablet or internet I desperately need a computer!!!! If I buy a tablet I would get an iPad, because I normally use Apple products and/or Windows sometimes! Q Link is just taking advantage of free government money and the tablet again I’ve seen YouTubers talk about it It is a crappy cheap tablet that’s going to give you more of a headache than anything else!!! We should be able to buy any computer laptop tablet of our choice and get the $100 off!!!!! This program would be better if we could go out by our own computer take a copy of the receipt and upload it after we’re verified for the program and they send us a check for $100 reimbursement!!!!

    • Jim Darroch

      We couldn’t say this any better than you just did, Jimmy. Yes, tablets serve a purpose but there’s no better way to take advantage of internet access than a reliable computer that can help people access the training and education programs they need to get ahead.

  7. Daniel

    Was told by an overseas AT&T rep. that I was allow to recieve either discounted service OR $100 off a device but not both.

    • Jim Darroch

      Wow. That’s just wrong, Daniel. We appreciate you sharing this with us for documentation purposes as we do everything we can to correct this glitch.

    • Vicki

      The EBB choices are either 1) A free Lifeline smartphone from your choice of participating providers and free unlimited talk text and data or 2)$50 off of your monthly home internet bill AND $100 toward a computer, laptop or tablet. But it says Customers must pay at least $10 but not more than $50 toward their chosen device. What can they get for between $110 and $150???? And I have been searching and searching and cannot find information about where to buy it or how to be reimbursed or anything. I am a service coordinator at a senior housing community and our residents need this information.

      • Kenyatta

        I want to say T-Mobile. I spoke with a EBB rep here in VA and they explained after my first billing cycle it will reflect that i am enrolled with EBB and the payments will be take care of the following month, After this is reflected in the bill i was going to go back and add the tablet and see what would transpire with the EBB reflecting on my bill.
        I hope this helps .

  8. Diane

    I was approved May 17th for EBB, filed out info for Windstream and have not received any credit on my Bill or even a confirmation from Windstream. Have any credits be applied to anyone so far?

    • Jim Darroch

      Thank you for commenting, Diane. We’re sorry to hear you’re having this difficulty with Windstream. We recommend sharing this comment on their social media pages where other customers of theirs can see it in addition to perisisting with their customer service team. It’s been less than a month so hopefully your billing issue will be resolved soon!

  9. Tonya

    Finally found someone addressing this!!!!I was frustrated myself after finding the computer had to be purchased through whoever I’m getting my internet with.That just isn’t right!!!!!!

    • Jim Darroch

      We share your frustration, Tonya. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping us build our case for support!

  10. Melvin

    I have already sent 3 emails to Jessica Rosenworcel about this exact problem starting in march. I even told her a way they could fix the problem. They can do the coupons like they did for the analog to digital switchover for the broadcast signal. Offer anybody that is eligible a way to call in or email your eligibility if you are approved. Or use the verification with the USAC or the Lifeline registry. Then people that are elegible and want a coupon that they can use at walmart and other places can turn them in to the stores or other places that offer a table,desktop or laptop for 10 to 50 dollars and the coupon the government/fcc sends you can use it to get one and not stuck with providers provideing them. So they should do the coupon route they did for the digital switchover for people to get boxed for the analog tv’s.
    Also told her the way this program is run really hurts the people that need it most because like in my state people on lifeline got hurt bigtime when Tmobile bought out sprint. Most lifelines in my state used sprint and when tmobile bought them out most lost service to lifeline cause of no tmobile in the 1/2 the state and ones that get tmobile are lucky to get a bar. Even the ones that travel the main highway through are state lost service. Tmobile say they might not have tower here for 2 to 3 years and the people have to use roaming they have with other isp’s in them area’s which ain’t no good when they cancelled the contract with uscellular they have in my area. We lost service to lifeline pretty much in 4 or 5 college towns in WV(Buckhannon,Clarksburg,Fairmont,etc. (Qlink,AssuranceWireless,etc except for safelink which you can request an at&t sim)use tmobile for lifeline which don’t work. Way it hurts people is we have trouble even getting the cheap tablets cause we have trouble with the lifeline service and if can’t get internet on the smartphones how can you expect to use the ebbp to get internet.
    So if they use the coupon system for people that want them then they could use the coupons at say Walmart,Bestbuys,etc to get a tablet,computer or laptop and use it with an isp like cable system and isp’s not offering a device and make the program work the way it was meant for.
    Quit hurting the people who need the ebb the most and just helping the isp’s make free billions for their ceo’s and stock market people.
    p.s. I though the ebb was suppose to be for school kid,people looking for jobs and familys that need internet for everyday life so why should telcos be allowed to offer whats suppose to be for that able to sign people up for the service and only give like 10 gig of hotspot service to people to use other devices when not meant to be used on smartphone. Should be purely unlimited service for any isp that wants to sign up for ebb money. They also throttle you like for useing 25 or 32 gigs on the smartphone to dialup speeds which isn’t good for internet.

  11. Melvin

    Everybody should be complaining besides to their local repesentive but all to the FCC to get this fixed.
    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

  12. TracyLynn

    I qualify for EBB, but can’t get a computer or laptop with the $100 off because no local stores can honor EBB credit. I want to go to college, but desperately need an up to date, quality working laptop or pc (not a cheap, crappy, older refurbished one). It be nice to be able to go to BestBuy, Walmart or even a local computer repair shop to get a good & reliable laptop or pc. They really need to get this EBB glitch fixed quickly.

  13. Natsu

    I am approved for lifeline and I applied for EBB through Optimum, but they keep saying that my application is rejected because it didn’t have “first fl” on my address. It is the same house, I am getting the service, why does the address need to match completely? I’ve applied 5 times and it was only recently that they told me recently that everything have to match EXACTLY. Who can I contact for this? It’s ridiculous that because I have every proof that I was furlough, made less then what I did in 2019 in 2020 etc.

    • Jim Darroch

      We’re so sorry to hear this, Natsu. Keep pushing and hopefully you get this resolved!

  14. Aaron

    I still can’t believe that T-Mobile is denying….first responders (Police, Fire, EMT) access to the EBB funding. They say that if your on the 1st responder program your already getting a discount. It’s a Federal discount and shouldn’t be up to T-Mobile to decide. I wonder what America will think about you… T-mobile….denying 1st responders??

  15. River

    The $50 off a month worked flawlessly on my end but I am only able to find 1 website that has these $100 off computers and thats with Pcsforpeople.org/ but there selection SUCKS! Its not legally right for only one company to offer or honor this program, thats called a MONOPOLY. Yet again, the government passed ANOTHER bill without fully reading it.

  16. mark

    I belong to one of the biggest isp’s in the world (Spectrum) but still cant use the $100 towards a pc.

    • Jim

      Did you get $50 with spectrum?
      I was approved 5/18/21 and apply with spectrum
      That day. They have me going in circles for
      about 6 weeks. Every time I’d call to see if
      I was approved they would ask me for different
      information. One time they canceled me and
      I had to get a new Q.ID number.
      Anyway the last thing they told me was I would have to
      be on a $79.00 plan to get the credit. For the past 30
      years I’ve been paying about $36.00 So in order to
      get the $50 credit I would have to pay the difference between
      $36. and $79. Which is $43. Monthly and once the credit ends
      I could not go back to old plan. I’d be paying $79. Monthly.
      So I just gave up.

  17. Vincent

    I had Lifeline service through QLink before EBB was implemented. They enrolled me (apparently twice with two distinct confirmation emails in two different months) into EBB when it was deployed. They also “confirmed” a tablet would be sent with a bill for $49 (but never disclosed ANY info up front about the make and model of this tablet, so it may not even be worth $149.) Well, they NEVER sent said tablet anyway. I don’t know if I still have that benefit to take to another provider, or if it “already got claimed” in Qlink’s system without actually delivering me any actual product (despite many messages it’ll be shipped “soon™”)

    Furthermore, my QLink EBB/Lifeline service was TOTALLY shut off from them without warning for “non-usage” (depsite that’s supposed to only happen if 30 days go by with no usage, and I had been using the service all that month. I was on customer support call with them just two days prior to the shut-off.) It seems my ATT Prepaid plan I used prior to QLink just kind of “stole” the EBB benefit and applied it to itself. (Apparently, a past “inquiry on using EBB” on ATT customer support was misinterpreted as “yes, please take my EBB and apply it.”) I’m fine with the internet service provided by ATT, but as far as I can tell the do NOT provide the $100 device discount on anything, so that is still going to waste.

    I’d really like a productivity device other than just the phone I have right now, particularly a laptop or a decently sized tablet with a keyboard case. It’s all just a huge mess with trying to get one, though.

  18. Renita

    Here to see if there is any updates on getting the $100 off for a laptop. I was able to get $50 off with Spectrum on my bill. Also if people don’t know it doesn’t matter if you are on the Spectrum assist for $22.99 a month. It will make your bill $0 monthly.

    • Jim Darroch

      Unfortunately not, Renita. We haven’t been able to gain access to these funds and we aren’t aware of any other computer retailers or organizations like ours that have either.

    • Jim

      Hi,
      What is spectrum assist?

  19. Laura

    I live in Oregon and already had internet service. I signed up for EBB through my provider and was approved and have the credit listed on my bill here for July. I couldn’t figure out how to get the device so I called my home phone/internet provider and they said they didn’t know anything about that part. It took me 3 hours of researching to discover that unless you sign up with a provider that has a checkmark by it, you cannot get a device. Why on Earth would I sign up with a different provider, and secondly, the only ISP in my area is the one I am currently with. What a waste.

  20. Paula

    I have contacted Every ISP in my service area & None provide devices so that I can purchase a functional device using the $100 credit portion of the program. This needs to be remedied as it limits the beneficial intent of the program.

    The implementation has Not been well thought out or planned.

    Further, I do Not think that the $100 device credit should Only be applicable with the service provider. It does Not allow the consumer the opportunity to locate the device that is best for their needs & it Penalizes the consumer – if the service provider does Not participate in that portion of the program. Totally Unfair & contrary to the programs intent.

  21. April

    Was able to get EBB through Hughes easily (qualified for Lifeline phone assistance, but have not seen actual assistance yet so hopefully it works also) but am also having the same issues as everyone else. Hughes doesn’t have computer products and can’t figure out how to take advantage of the discount. Extremely frustrating to think you will be able to do something to help your family just to have it yanked away..

  22. Paula

    I have contacted Every ISP in my service area & there are None that provide devices so that I can purchase a functional device using the $100 credit portion of the program. This needs to be remedied as it limits the beneficial intent of the program.

    The implementation has Not been well thought out or planned as I had great difficulty dealing with well known providers who seemed to lack information regarding the $50 monthly service credit.

    Further, I do Not think that the $100 device credit should Only be applicable with the service provider of the $50 service credit. It does Not allow the consumer the opportunity to locate the device that is best for their needs & Penalizes them – if the service provider does Not participate in that portion of the program.which is Unfair & contrary to the programs intent.

    I am very grateful about the concept of the program but rather disappointed with the difficulty obtaining the $50 service credit from the ISP & absolutely No options or providers of the $100 device credit available.

  23. Maria

    I qualify for the EBB and I would love to use it especially since I have 4 kids, but I have not used it because I cannot seem to find anyone that actually offers the laptop, which is preferred for my kids. It’s frustrating trying to use this benefit but only having the option to get the $100 credit through the same provider when I cannot find not even one company that offers both. It’s ridiculous! I am on a very fixed income and we are barely making it. The only way I will ever have a computer in my home is if this program actually allows us low-income families to get them.

  24. Christina

    I haven’t gotten my 1st bill yet but the discount applied through Spectrum here in Florida Hernando County they knew all about the emergency broadband they worked out where I could get home Wi-Fi phone and cable under $50 but nobody seems to know about the hundred dollars off for the laptop tablet or computer anywhere but I guess I’m fortunate to be able to have home Wi-Fi as of now you’re fortunate to have Lifeline for a cell phone seeing how the minutes run out so fast for the cell phone the Wi-Fi does come in handy and the house phone does too. But if anybody does have any information on the laptop tablets or home computer it’d be much more helpful being disabled having all those services to have that as well please let me know of any information on that. thank you God bless

  25. Mike

    My aunt can’t even get pass the EBB’s put your initial screen. What?
    How can there be error just for putting your initials? She can’t move pass the screen.

    What’s the deal? EBB website is terrible.

  26. Souxie

    Hello, I a got approved for the EBB Program yesterday. Finally, after waiting and making phone calls to the Lifeline hotline. I got my App # and ready to hit some phone providers. I will physically check out Boost, Verizon, At&T, Cricket, and Walmart stores, ask questions to the best of my ability about the program and my options. I was researching the program so I fell across this Blig. I wanted to read about what I am going to be expecting on on my way out the door. I will post back in a few days with whatever info i come across on. But apparently that 100$ discount is the a concern, an essential BEnefit from this program that (how conviniently) we cant assess as easilly as the internet/phone service. Competition between brands and also loss of money with actaully giving physical decent product. Well.
    here we go

  27. Michelle

    Same issue here that’s how I found this article. I have had lifeline approval for over a year and that phone has not only never worked for anything other than spam it has put me in 2 life threatening situations that I couldn’t even call 911 because it was froze. It’s through Assurance. Numerous contacts with them and their solution is buy a better phone that MUST be bought through them at twice the price as anywhere else for a refurbished phone. Now I am approved for this EBB and would really like to start my own Social Media Organization and Management company and not only can I not find a laptop or tablet with the discount every single place that offers the internet or cell phone with hotspot requires you pay for a full month up front and then get approved through them even after you have already been approved through the EBB program. Both Lifeline wireless and EBB are useless and doing nothing but giving money to these companies that register to “offer” it.
    I post about the lifeline part because I tell everyone I can do NOT use Lifeline as emergency communication. I am lucky I am not dead. But those spam offers and trojan viruses sure manage to go through. Considering many that rely of Lifeline are elderly it’s no wonder they get scammed and our taxes are paying for the services promoting it.

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