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Low-income Oregon households eligible for high-speed internet discount through federal program

Low-income Oregon households eligible for high-speed internet discount through federal program

A new federal program will subsidize internet connections for low-income households, paying $30 a month to help people cover the cost of online access.

All three of Oregon’s major broadband providers, Comcast, CenturyLink and Ziply Fiber, are participating, as are leading wireless internet carrier AT&T and Verizon. Comcast, the state’s largest internet provider, estimates that more than 180,000 households are eligible in its service territory in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

The new, $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program is the successor to the Emergency Broadband Benefit that Congress, established during the pandemic.

The older program, which expired Tuesday, drew on temporary funding established by COVID-19 relief programs and paid up to $50 a month to offset internet costs at a time when millions of people were working and attending school remotely.

Congress authorized the new Affordable Connectivity Program last fall as a long-term successor. It pays $30 a month, or up to $75 for households on tribal lands. People qualify if their household income is less than double the federal poverty standard.

That means a single person with an income below $27,000 a year qualifies; for a family of four, the qualifying standard is $55,500. People also qualify if they participate in certain federal public assistance programs, among them food stamps, Medicaid and the National School Lunch Program.

The federal government is taking applications online at Eligible applicants have the money applied to their monthly internet bills.

Some families with low incomes can receive free internet service through the new program. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, for example, offers discounted internet service to families that qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches, Medicaid, food stamps and other programs.

People who qualify for Internet Essentials, which offers downloads of up to 50 megabits per second, can have the entire cost of their internet connection paid for by the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Mike Rogoway

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