Some providers take advantage of Emergency Broadband Benefit to push customer upgrades

Washington Post reports on how different providers have been handling the EBB ( Emergency Broadband Benefit), the federal money aimed at making broadband more affordable to those who need it…

All Internet service provider participation in the program is voluntary, and each ISP gets to write some of its own rules for how to hand out the money. Soon after the EBB launched, I started hearing from Washington Post readers about their frustrations signing up with certain ISPs.

None of this should stop eligible Americans from trying to claim their broadband benefits — read this piece for my advice — but it’s important to call out some of the shenanigans.

Verizon elicited the most ire from readers. It requires customers to call a phone line to register for the EBB, rather than just signing up online. And when you do, Verizon tells some customers the EBB can’t be used on “old” data plans, so they’ll have to switch. That might be allowed by the letter of the law but certainly isn’t the spirit of the program.

Reader Eric from Hopedale, Mass., who asked to be identified only by his first name, was told his current no-contract Internet service, which costs $62 per month, would need to become part of a new Verizon Fios plan. That would run him $79 per month.

They are not alone…

And unfortunately, Verizon isn’t the only ISP saying it won’t support older plans. AT&T, which also makes customers call to activate the EBB for home Internet, says existing customers will have to select from one of a handful of options, and the plan they select will become their plan after the EBB program ends. Charter says that “an extremely small percentage of customers” who have legacy Internet plans will have to switch to a Spectrum Internet plan as part of enrolling in the EBB.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, Funding, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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