Narrowing the Digital Divide Via the FCC’s New Discounts

By now many ASA members know the statistic from OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) that a mere 58 percent of older adults in the United States have broadband internet access in their homes. Beginning May 12, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is allowing all eligible older adults (and other adults) in the United States to sign up for a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband services and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands.

Eligible households also can receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers, as long as they contribute at least $10 and less than $50 to the purchase.

To be eligible a member of the household must meet one of several requirements such as falling at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, participating in Medicaid, receiving SNAP, having received a Federal Pell Grant this past year, experiencing a substantial loss of income due to the pandemic and other criteria.

Click here for details on eligibility and on the program itself.

Households can enroll in three ways: directly with a local participating provider; online with the Universal Service Administrative Company at their website; or download a paper application, fill it out and mail it in.

Isolation during the pandemic brought the long-existing digital divide among older adults into sharp focus, and these days doing almost anything, from applying for jobs to accessing health insurance benefits, never mind watching Netflix, requires strong internet connection.

ASA urges all members to spread the word about this new FCC program to older adults, caregivers and anyone else who might help to connect an older adult in need.