Federal program offers discounted internet service

Effort will help KCMO close digital divide

Kansas City, Missouri News (May 13, 2021) Some Kansas City, Missouri, residents may be eligible for monthly discounts on internet service through a new federal program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit.


Helping our residents get more affordable internet service will help close the digital divide and move us closer toward achieving a major goal of our Digital Equity Strategic Plan.


“The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the need for home internet services for school, work, accessing government services and participation in the digital economy,” said City Manager Brian Platt. “This program will enable our most affected residents to connect with the internet in a meaningful way.”


Access to the internet is important as more city services become available online. Nowadays, it’s much easier for residents to go online to do everything from paying their taxes to submitting plans for home improvements. Still, we know that 14% of KCMO households do not have home internet service, and that number is even higher if you live in the Third (26%) or Fifth (21%) District.


"I am proud that steps are being taken to bridge the digital equity gap in Kansas City, especially in a time where access to the internet means access to job opportunities, education, and essential resources,’’ Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “This program is such a simple yet transformative way to help Kansas City families join the digital infrastructure that has become a requirement for much of our modern education system, workforce, and information economy."


We're partnering with the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion, a collaborative group of local nonprofits, individuals, government entities and businesses focused on fostering internet access and digital readiness in greater Kansas City, to help us maximize this unique opportunity.


The temporary benefit will help to lower the cost of internet service for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing a discount of up to $50 per month toward internet service for eligible households. The benefit also provides up to a $100 discount per household toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.


A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:


· Has an income that is at or below 135% 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 free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;


· Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;


· Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or


· Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.


Enrollment started on May 12 so please confirm your eligibility through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application. Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week.


The Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion has posted information on the details, including the list of participating providers, to help qualifying households find the plan that fits their needs.


For more information, contact Assistant City Manager Rick Usher at richard.usher@kcmo.org.