FCC - Emergency Benefit Program

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
35 posts Page 2 of 4
by miraleslie » Tue May 11, 2021 4:05 pm
It looks like most of this thread so far is about the existing Lifeline program. However, there is a new and temporary program that is part of the federal covid relief bill that Congress passed a few months ago (I think). The temp program would provide a $50/month discount on Internet service, unconnected to phone service. Also, it looks like the FCC form does the eligibility verification. I found the info at getemergencybroadband.org. FCC administers the program (like Lifeline) but maybe the requirements are different? And easier for Internet providers to navigate?

The program opens for applications from consumers tomorrow.
by jmtech » Wed May 12, 2021 10:03 am
Yes, the application process for the FCC $50 Internet benefit has opened. The program is slated to run through at least June of next year. Sonic.net is listed as a participating provider, but as of yet they are still working on the enrollment process it seems.

https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit
by derekcwallace » Wed May 12, 2021 4:07 pm
Here is what I have experienced...

I just applied for the $50/month EB program and got accepted. Sonic, my current service provider for over a year, is listed on their "Companies Near Me" (I live in the 94704 zip code)...

https://data.usac.org/publicreports/Com ... oad/Report

I called up Sonic and the customer service rep pulled up my account. Was told they only offer this program to NEW customers. I said well if I quit and then rejoin later I'll be a new customer, right? Rep said this program only applies to new and FIRST-TIME customers.

So I called up the EB Program and got ahold of a representative. He checked with his supervisor, who said this is accurate. Because these companies are opting in to the program voluntarily, they can choose the stipulations for eligibility. Was then told that I could find another service provider ("Companies Near Me" page lists 62 in my area) and enter with them as a new customer and be eligible for the program.

Now my choice is to stay with Sonic and continue to pay these high fees or to look into other providers and hope they don't sneak in hidden costs like modem rental or any of that jazz which would negate the point of getting into the program. And hope they have comparable connection speeds.

As someone mentioned in a previous post, the FCC pays back these companies...so I am not clear as to why new customers should be able to get the program as opposed to a loyal customer like me who has been paying for over a year during a friggin' pandemic. Maybe somebody from Sonic can help educate me?

Bottom line: Sonic, you all might be losing a customer soon...
by jmtech » Wed May 12, 2021 9:23 pm
Bottom line: Sonic, you all might be losing a customer soon...

I'd sure hate to have to drop my service, but times are tough.
by soneile » Thu May 13, 2021 11:17 am
Can someone verify this info about EBB only applying to New, first-time customers? I was told it is only available to those Berkeley School district kids with free or reduced lunch. We are poor enough that if I can save $50+ a month it would be the responsible thing to do.
by nighthawk » Fri May 14, 2021 8:31 am
Can someone create a petition on Change.org to get Sonic's attention? They should really be supporting their customers during COVID-19, especially the ones that are eligible for this program.
by dane » Fri May 14, 2021 10:24 pm
soneile wrote:
Can someone verify this info about EBB only applying to New, first-time customers? I was told it is only available to those Berkeley School district kids with free or reduced lunch. We are poor enough that if I can save $50+ a month it would be the responsible thing to do.


No, that is not accurate.

See my first post in this thread for details on what we are doing today.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by nighthawk » Sun May 16, 2021 8:39 am
Your post is misleading. The EBB can be applied fully to Data + Voice plans (see https://www.fcc.gov/consumer-faq-emerge ... nd-benefit).

The issue is probably just financial. There's overhead with processing customer's EBB plan changes and getting the $50 reimbursement every month from the gov't. i.e. there isn't any financial incentive for ISPs to support EBB customers. Why bother getting $50 reimbursed from the gov't when you can just get it directly from the customer.
by dane » Sun May 16, 2021 1:54 pm
nighthawk wrote:
Your post is misleading. The EBB can be applied fully to Data + Voice plans (see https://www.fcc.gov/consumer-faq-emerge ... nd-benefit).

The issue is probably just financial. There's overhead with processing customer's EBB plan changes and getting the $50 reimbursement every month from the gov't. i.e. there isn't any financial incentive for ISPs to support EBB customers. Why bother getting $50 reimbursed from the gov't when you can just get it directly from the customer.


I wasn’t aware bundled services would qualify, particularly because we are not an “eligible telecommunications carrier”, where local voice service itself would be eligible for subsidy. And we have been focused on getting to zero: a data only service with no co-payment by the customer.

Our issue is billing and signup software integration with all of the FCC qualification and payment APIs, as well as the bundling issues. It’s not a financial matter, but one of prioritization of limited software development resources.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by aaronchang » Sun May 16, 2021 5:50 pm
derekcwallace wrote:
Here is what I have experienced...

Now my choice is to stay with Sonic and continue to pay these high fees or to look into other providers and hope they don't sneak in hidden costs like modem rental or any of that jazz which would negate the point of getting into the program. And hope they have comparable connection speeds.

...


Check out if MonkeyBrains supports your area, they have coverage in Berkeley, but they're still expanding there. I have Sonic Gigabit (500 mbps, lol) at my home in the Sunset, but have MonkeyBrains for my SF Mission apartment (had Sonic for 11 years here). They use WISP technology, so you need an antenna (small); I get 120 down, 90 up.
They also have a "hi-speed" network where folks are reporting 200-500 mbps. My ping time is 6ms and jitter is 2. It's all $35 flat, but paid in quarterly. I believe they're also on the EBB list, but haven't done any research.

As for the EBB, I weighed out which service I wanted the discount to apply to. My mobile wireless bill is around $200 (linked to my apartment address), so I opted for the discount to apply to that. For my house (different address) I would've liked the discount for Sonic, but this is where we're at now. What I'm saying is, maybe you can apply the discount to something else because it's only one per household.
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