North Carolina officials are touting a federal program that offers consumers discounts on broadband connections and computers. 

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) discounts an eligible family's internet bill by as much as $50 a month, with higher discounts for households on tribal lands. The program, which is administered by the Federal Communications Commission, also offers a one-time discount of $100 toward the purchase of a computer or tablet.

According to a news release from Governor Roy Cooper's office, more than 180,000 North Carolina households have signed up for the assistance since the program debuted in May. North Carolina's enrollment level ranks sixth among the 50 states.

State officials believe the pandemic has highlighted digital inequities and continue to encourage eligible households to sign up for these benefits.

Eligibility criteria include income, current enrollment in other assistance programs, or decreased income due to job loss or furlough.

While there have been deadlines set for the program's expiration, Cooper is urging the state's Congressional delegation to support a federal proposal that would make a monthly discount permanent. And the governor has proposed using the state's allotment of American Rescue Plan funds to maintain the discounts for at least four years.

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