May 12, 2021 — The pandemic has underscored the digital divide, but Ohio’s public libraries recognized the need for broadband connectivity long before the pandemic started. We know that a significant number of Ohioans still lack access to this basic utility. In 2019, Ohioans utilized public library computers more than 12.7 million times and our Wi-Fi more than 23.9 million times — and that was pre-pandemic.
Starting today, May 12, families struggling to afford the internet can apply for a discount on their monthly bills. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, will temporarily provide eligible households discounts of up to $50 a month toward broadband service. The program is funded by $3.2 billion approved by Congress in December, as part of COVID-19 relief legislation, to help households with low incomes stay connected to the internet. Families can enroll through an approved provider or visit GetEmergencyBroadband.org to begin the process.
Public libraries can play a key role in getting this information out to those who need internet access. The OLC has teamed up with BroadbandOhio and RemotEDx Connectivity Champions to help spread the word about the EBB program. An informational flyer is available for download on the OLC website. Please share it with your community.