FCC - Emergency Benefit Program

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
35 posts Page 1 of 4
by itsalann » Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:55 am
Sonic + Dane,

Does Sonic intend on participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program? It offers a $50 dollar discount that's reimbursed by the Federal government: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit

I know that Sonic doesn't participate in the lifeline program (disappointing) but this is a sizable discount.
by akseawolf » Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:35 pm
I too am interested in this program. $110/mo for resold AT&T Fiber is a bit much for me.
by itsalann » Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:57 pm
akseawolf wrote:
I too am interested in this program. $110/mo for resold AT&T Fiber is a bit much for me.


I haven’t gotten my first bill yet but it’s $110 for ATT resold fiber????? :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:

@Dane, can you provide us with confirmation on Sonic’s participation?
by dane » Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:40 pm
We’ve been approved for an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program service for students of the Berkeley Unified School District who qualify for the free/reduced lunch program. It will start at the EBB program start date, and until that time, Sonic is providing free service to these households. More details on the BUSD partnership can be found at: https://www.prweb.com/releases/sonic_to ... 726457.htm

We will not initially have the capability to provide a generally available low-income program, primarily because of two factors: eligibility verification software and our voice bundle — voice service is not eligible for the EBB program. We are initiating a market test for a data only product, but the software isn’t yet complete for that yet. (And that development is primarily what is in front of the eligibility API work, if we take that up.)

(For the BUSD program, the district is doing the eligibility validation for us, and we’ll manually configure out the voice portion.)

Notable also: the EBB is only possible for data-only service that is on-net, so it couldn’t be used for a resold IPBB product, nor a Fusion product where the use of a UNE copper loop mandates the inclusion of a voice telecom service. Quite a few caveats.

We are seeking additional school districts to partner with in our fiber service cities in hopes that we can provide low income student households with fast reliable symmetrical gigabit fiber internet. Distance learning is hard enough, but great broadband can help.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by itsalann » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:54 pm
Sounds like akseawolf and my parents are SOL. My parents would qualify under low income (not USD based) so that point is moot. So not only do we not qualify for EBB, but because of how our service is structured, we pay for, but aren’t able to make sure of the lifeline benefits.

Very frustrating.
by itsalann » Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:47 am
Dane,

I am just going through the FCC's site and I see this as an answer to a FAQ question:

I currently subscribe to a bundle of services that includes internet, TV, and phone. Can I apply the Emergency Broadband Benefit to my monthly bill?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit can be applied to the cost of a bundle of services that include broadband, voice, texting and/or associated equipment. If your bundle also includes a TV service, you will be responsible for that portion of your bill, as well as any services that are above the monthly discount. Can you explain where you are getting the messaging that it cannot be applied to bundles?

A second critique about low-income verification: I am not sure what service your low-income verification would use, but AT&T simply asks us to submit proof of eligibility. My parents have a Sec. 8 voucher, and I don't believe you'll have any API to attach to to verify this information. I would think that Sonic could simply create a secure mailbox and verify documents that provide you with the requisite information. If you instead mean that Sonic does not have the development ability to connect to the API to reimburse you, then I guess we remain SOL.
by cmeisel » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:50 pm
AT&T is a multi billion $ company. Sonic is a very small company that just invested so much money in their network that I am surprised they participate at all. In comparison you are talking to a mom and pop shop here and I would not try to guilt a service that provided very fast, unmetered, total privacy internet service to all. They could squeeze a lot more out of people for fiber. Any verification requirement for a small company is a nightmare and burden for them.
by itsalann » Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:14 pm
cmeisel wrote:
AT&T is a multi billion $ company. Sonic is a very small company that just invested so much money in their network that I am surprised they participate at all. In comparison you are talking to a mom and pop shop here and I would not try to guilt a service that provided very fast, unmetered, total privacy internet service to all. They could squeeze a lot more out of people for fiber. Any verification requirement for a small company is a nightmare and burden for them.


I would even volunteer my time for free to verify documents to make this program happen. Sonic is reimbursed (the subsidy) by the federal government for the program. I had three choices for gigabit fiber for ~$60/month, but I went with Sonic as I've been with them for over 10 years. And it's not exactly guilting them into anything, it would give Sonic an in with low income households.

For a development of 400 units, Sonic isn't even on the radar for anyone in this building...There is a tremendously huge difference between $110/month Sonic vs $70 AT&T + HBO Max vs $60 Google Web Pass.
by dane » Fri Apr 23, 2021 5:12 pm
The process for eligiblity verification is complex, participarly because of the new categories of eligibility. It's not yet clear how those will all be validated. But there's also a requirement that we verify that each household is only receiving a single subsidized service. This is done via the National Lifeline Accountability Database.

All do-able, but we're taking it one step at a time, first with students in the free/reduced lunch program, where the School District is doing the eligibility validation. And we'll manually manage the NLAD validation and the submission for reimbursement.

To make a generally available product possible, we need to automate eligibility verification integration, code to the NLAD API, and make all the reimbursement submissions automatically. There are also some substantial anti-fraud recordkeeping obligations.

With a limited software development team, and a complex internal platform for service fulfillment and billing, this will take us some time, so that's the issue, and our reason for starting small, with a single school district.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by akseawolf » Thu Apr 29, 2021 4:01 pm
itsalann wrote:

I haven’t gotten my first bill yet but it’s $110 for ATT resold fiber????? :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:


I was out of town and haven't had a chance to reply to this thread until now.

I signed up for service with Sonic in July 2019, so the $10/mo discount for the first twelve months has expired. I pay $90/mo for service, $10/mo for modem rental, $7/mo for a phone line I have no use for and can't cancel, and a couple dollars in taxes.

My understanding is that sometime after I signed up Sonic signed a new contract with AT&T that allows them to offer new subscribers a better rate yet they are not allowed to migrate existing customers to the new contract. Thus my only option is to cancel service, wait an unspecified period of time and then sign up again. Or hope Tekify expands their fiber rollout to my block.
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