Consumer Action publishes consumer guide to Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit

Free publication augments library of fact sheets designed to help close the digital divide

Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 202-544-3088

Consumer Action, a national consumer education and advocacy nonprofit, has just published a guide to help consumers take advantage of the federal Lifeline discounted phone/broadband program and the new Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB).

The pandemic continues to challenge individual households and the nation’s communities, with families who have lost income as a result of the crisis faced with hard choices about where to cut costs. At the same time, high-speed internet is more indispensable than ever, with work, school, job-hunting, medical appointments, and many other essential activities now taking place online.

Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit: Discounted phone and internet for low-income households introduces consumers to the two federal programs—Lifeline and the new (temporary) Emergency Broadband Benefit—through which qualifying low- and moderate-income households can get discounts on home broadband or wireless data service.

Lifeline has been around since 1985, while the new EBB began taking applications in May. Both these Federal Communications Commission (FCC) programs are aimed at helping low-income households afford high-speed internet service. (Lifeline used to be dedicated to reducing the cost of phone service, but the voice-only discount will be discontinued at the end of this year.) The EBB discount (up to $50 per month for eligible households; up to $75 for qualifying residents of Tribal Lands) is much higher than the Lifeline discount (up to $9.25 per month; up to $34.25 for residents of Tribal Lands), but the EBB program is temporary; it will end when the program runs out of money, or six months after the government declares an end to the COVID-19 crisis, whichever comes first.

Consumer Action has also updated its Getting Up to Speed: Broadband internet for low-income households fact sheet and the companion Low-income Broadband Plans. In addition to covering Lifeline and the EBB, these publications provide details about the handful of discounted broadband programs offered by telecommunications companies and nonprofits. Using these three publications, consumers can compare the costs, service features, availability, and eligibility requirements of the various options and choose the program that best meets their needs.

“Reliable high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity—even more so during a pandemic,” said Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action’s executive director. “Lack of awareness of discounted broadband assistance programs cannot be what stands in the way of low- and moderate-income households getting and staying connected.”

Production of the new publication and completion of the updates was achieved with funding from AT&T. Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit: Discounted phone and internet for low-income households is available for free download in English now, and will be made available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean in August and September, as translations are completed. Getting Up to Speed is available in English and Spanish, and Low-income Broadband Plans is published in English. These and all other Consumer Action publications can be freely reproduced by community-based organizations to distribute to their individual clients and throughout their communities. Access all here.

# # #

[Staff] [Annual Reports] [How to Donate]

Consumer Action is a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial and consumer literacy and advocating for consumer rights both in the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective and trusted consumer organizations in the nation.

Consumer education. To empower consumers to assert their rights in the marketplace, Consumer Action provides a range of educational resources. The organization’s extensive library of free publications offers in-depth information on many topics related to personal money management, housing, insurance and privacy, while its hotline provides non-legal advice and referrals. On our website, visitors have instant access to important consumer news, downloadable materials, an online “help desk,” the Take Action advocacy database, and more. Consumer Action also publishes unbiased surveys of financial and consumer services that expose excessive prices and anti-consumer practices to help consumers make informed buying choices and elicit change from big business. Our in-language media outreach allows us to share scam alerts and other timely consumer news with a wide non-English-speaking audience.

Community outreach. With a special focus on serving low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers, Consumer Action maintains strong ties to a national network of more than 6,000 community-based organizations. Outreach services include in-person and web-based training and bulk mailings of financial and consumer education materials in many languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Consumer Action’s network is the largest and most diverse of its kind.

Advocacy. Consumer Action is deeply committed to ensuring that underrepresented consumers are represented in the national media and in front of lawmakers. The organization promotes pro-consumer policy, regulation and legislation by taking positions on dozens of bills at the state and national levels and submitting comments and testimony on a host of consumer protection issues. Additionally, its diverse staff provides the media with expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data and victim testimony.




Quick Menu

Facebook FTwitter T