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How To Get A Free Phone Through The EBB (Emergency Broadband Benefit) Program

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

Do you need a new smartphone but don't have the budget? The government offers assistance programs to help you get an EBB free phone or get one at a good discount!

In this article, get to know the EBB program and the free phone benefits you can get.

What Is The EBB Program?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit was launched in May 2021 to help low-income individuals and households gain access to broadband service and a connectivity device like an EBB free phone, tablet, and laptop. It served as a program that helped people handle COVID-19 challenges. However, EBB was offered for a limited time.

On December 31, 2021, the FCC launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to replace EBB, but both offer similar approaches for helping every household needing internet service.

What Is The Affordable Connectivity Program?

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is designed to help expand and increase access to high-speed broadband internet services in underserved and rural areas. The program is based on the premise that access to a reliable and affordable broadband internet connection is essential for economic growth, educational opportunities, and improved quality of life.

With ACP, a household can get up to a $30 internet service discount per month or up to $75 monthly if you are from Tribal lands. Though the amount is $20 lower than the EBB benefit, this is a long-term project and lasts beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is still in its early stages, and some areas of the country still do not have access to it. However, the FCC is working on expanding the program and making it more widely available.

How Can You Get A Free ACP Phone?

How Can You Get A Free ACP Phone

Since the EBB program is no longer active to give away an EBB free phone, here are the steps to getting discounts or a free phone from the Affordable Connectivity Program:

1. Meet Eligibility Requirements

There are three main eligibility criteria for the ACP. They will look at household income, participation in specific government assistance programs, and membership in the Lifeline benefit.

First, you can gain eligibility for the ACP benefit if your income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which are amounts that depend on the state you are from and the size of your household.

ACP enrollment is also available for active participants in various government programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit, or specific Tribal programs.

It is also for people who received a Federal Pell Grant in the same year or are recipients of benefits under the free and reduced-cost school lunch or breakfast program, including through the Community Eligibility Provision.

2. Sign Up For The ACP Service Benefit

Once you have confirmed your eligibility, you should consider signing up for the ACP. To sign up, you should create an account and complete the ACP application online. In some cases, you will receive the approval notification immediately.

You may also print an application and send it in by mail. If you're unsure, you can ask your broadband service company if they participate in the program and have them help you along the way.

3. Enroll To An ACP Service Provider

When you gain approval for the ACP, you can start by applying for a free phone. You can use the ACP database to find partner companies near you. Here, you can explore various data plans or talk and text packages to decide on the best coverage.

For the best results, talk to participating companies to learn more about their ACP service plan and their restrictions, if there are any.

Are There Restrictions To A Free EBB Phone?

If you are a consumer through the EBB program, you should note that the government requires yearly recertification. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) or the internet company will ask for proof to see if you still qualify.

Former EBB and current ACP customers will be sent a recertification notice. But if you don't respond, you will use the benefits, your cellular service may be terminated, or you might be sent a bill increase.

You should also note that the ACP guidelines limit its benefits to only one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. If you change your physical address, no longer qualify for the ACP, or have more than one person in your household receive the ACP benefit, notify your internet company within 30 days.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program?

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program is a temporary federal initiative designed to help eligible households afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides a monthly discount on broadband service, along with a one-time discount on a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.

Who is eligible for the EBB Program?

To be eligible for the EBB Program, a household must meet at least one of the following criteria: have an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, participate in certain assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline, be approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program, have experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, or meet other eligibility criteria.

How can I apply for a free phone through the EBB Program?

To apply for a free phone through the EBB Program, first check your eligibility and apply for the program through the National Verifier at Once approved, contact your participating broadband service provider to inquire about the one-time device discount and follow their specific application process.

Start With A Free EBB Phone Application Today!

The Affordable Connectivity Program, which replaces the EBB benefit for an EBB free phone, is a great way to bridge the digital divide and make the internet more accessible to low-income households. If you are qualified to receive a free phone or a device discount, you should make the most of the program features and apply as soon as possible!

Curious about more opportunities to get a free phone? Don't miss our latest blog post exploring the potential to receive a free iPhone 8 through government initiatives. Uncover all the details to stay connected without breaking the bank.

For more information on the Affordable Connectivity Program, check out our Gov Relations guide today!

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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