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Emergency Broadband Benefit Free Laptop: Eligibility And Application Process

Written by: Jeremy Moore
August 2, 2023

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a federal initiative devised by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. While its primary focus is providing discounted internet services, it indirectly facilitates acquiring devices like laptops at a reduced cost. This article explores how the "Emergency Broadband Benefit free laptop" idea works and how households can benefit from it.

The Nature of The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program is a federal initiative designed to bridge the digital divide exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers substantial discounts to eligible households to ensure affordable and reliable internet connectivity, thereby enabling participation in the digital society.

Broadband Services Discounts

At its core, the EBB offers eligible households a discount of up to $50 per month for broadband services. This substantial discount aims to make internet services affordable for families who might otherwise struggle with the cost.

For those residing on Tribal lands, the monthly discount is even more significant, going up to $75. Tribal lands often lack access to affordable, high-speed internet, and this increased discount is designed to counteract that disparity and promote digital inclusion.

One-Time Device Discount

In addition to monthly broadband service discounts, the EBB program also acknowledges the need for households to have access to the necessary devices to use the internet effectively. Thus, it provides a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

This discount applies if the consumer contributes more than $10 but less than $50 toward the purchase price of the device, making the acquisition of a necessary device more affordable for many families. The device discount is not mandatory for providers to offer and will depend on the participating broadband provider's offerings.

Provider Participation

It's essential to note that not all internet service providers participate in the EBB. Those that do might not offer the device discount, as it's not a required component of the program. Therefore, it's crucial for consumers to check with their providers about their participation in the EBB program and whether they offer the device discount.

Program Aims

The overall aim of the EBB program is to ensure that all Americans have the necessary connectivity to participate fully in our increasingly digital society. The COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear how critical internet access is for all facets of life. Whether it's working from home, participating in online education, accessing telehealth services, or simply staying connected with loved ones, reliable and affordable internet access has become a necessity rather than a luxury. The EBB program is a significant step towards making that a reality for all Americans.

Eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The eligibility for the EBB program is broad and intended to support as many struggling households as possible. You're eligible if:

  • Your income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or you participate in certain assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline.

  • You have been approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the current or preceding school year.

  • You've received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.

  • You've experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and your household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.

  • You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

To check your eligibility, you can visit the official website of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

How to Apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit

Applying for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program is a straightforward process that can be done through either a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Depending on the method chosen, the process may involve an online or mail-in application.

Applying Through a Participating Broadband Provider

  1. Identify a Participating Provider: Not all broadband providers participate in the EBB program. Therefore, the first step is to identify a participating provider in your area. You can do this by checking the list of providers on the official EBB or FCC website.

  2. Contact the Provider: Once you have identified a participating provider, contact them for application details. Each provider might have a slightly different application process.

  3. Submit Proof of Eligibility: As part of the application, you'll need to demonstrate that you meet the eligibility criteria. This could involve presenting proof of income, a benefit award letter, or any other document that validates your claim. The type of proof required will depend on the specific eligibility criteria you meet.

  4. Device Discount Application: If you're interested in the device discount offered by the EBB program, make sure to communicate this to your provider. They will guide you through the application process for the device discount.

Applying Directly Through the USAC

  1. Online Application: You can apply online through the official USAC website. The online application form is designed to be user-friendly and quick. It will ask you for personal information, including your name, contact information, and details about your financial situation, to assess your eligibility.

  2. Mail-in Application: If you cannot apply online, you can request a mail-in application from the USAC. After you've filled out the application, you can mail it back to USAC along with the required proof of eligibility.

  3. Submit Proof of Eligibility: Similar to applying through a provider, you'll need to demonstrate your eligibility. This might involve sending copies of relevant documents, such as a benefit award letter or proof of income.

  4. Device Discount Application: To apply for the device discount, you'll need to do so through a participating provider, even if you initially applied for the EBB through the USAC. Contact a participating provider for the next steps.

Please remember that only one EBB discount is allowed per eligible household, and the program will continue until the fund is exhausted or the health crisis ends.

Getting a Free Laptop Through the Emergency Broadband Benefit

While the EBB program itself doesn't directly provide free laptops, the one-time discount it offers can significantly reduce the cost of a device when bought from a participating provider. Furthermore, certain associated programs may offer free or reduced-cost devices.

For example, everyoneon.org, a non-profit dedicated to creating social and economic opportunities by connecting low-income families to affordable internet service and computers, partners with affordable technology programs across the country. They provide refurbished laptops, often free of charge, to eligible households.

However, keep in mind that supply is often limited, and availability may vary depending on the region and the provider. Make sure to communicate with your service provider or check their website for the most accurate and current information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of devices are covered by the EBB's one-time device discount?

The EBB's one-time device discount covers laptops, desktop computers, and tablets. However, the specific models and brands covered may vary by provider. Always confirm with your service provider for precise details.

How long will the EBB program last?

The duration of the EBB program is not explicitly set. It is designed to continue until its allocated funds are exhausted or until six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever comes first.

Can the EBB discount be applied to existing broadband service contracts, or is it only for new contracts?

The EBB discount can be applied to both existing and new broadband service contracts, provided your service provider is participating in the program. However, the application of the discount may vary, so it's best to check directly with your provider for specific details.

What happens if my application for the EBB is rejected? Can I appeal the decision?

If your application for the EBB is rejected, the exact next steps may depend on the reason for the rejection. Generally, if you believe there has been an error, you can re-apply or seek guidance from the service provider or directly from USAC. However, it's recommended to check the specific appeal or re-application process laid out by the USAC or your broadband provider.

Are there any additional costs or fees associated with the EBB program?

The EBB program itself does not impose any additional costs or fees. It aims to reduce the cost of broadband service and, if applicable, the cost of a device. However, individual broadband providers may have their own fees or costs associated with their specific services, so it's important to discuss this with your provider when applying for the program.


The Emergency Broadband Benefit serves as a vital resource for families coping with connectivity expenses in these trying times. Although it doesn't directly offer free laptops, the "Emergency Broadband Benefit free laptop" concept signifies the potential of the EBB's one-time discount, along with the efforts of participating providers, to substantially lessen the cost of a device or even render it free. Staying updated on the evolution of the program can open up more beneficial opportunities.

Further, explore the opportunities available with our guide on Free Straight Talk Service, another program aimed at ensuring that everyone has access to vital communication. Get access to the right resources at We Are All USA and get the digital support you need.

Jeremy Moore
With a deep understanding of the challenges faced by individuals in difficult financial circumstances, Jeremy is dedicated to empowering others to access the benefits, grants, and assistance programs that can transform their lives.
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