Monday, November 29, 2021

FCC IG Warns of Fraud in EBB Program

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief Enrollment data for the FCC’s broadband affordability program shows that some broadband providers and their sales agents are engaging in fraudulent behavior, according to a warning from the agency’s inspector general. The IG says fraudsters claim their customers have children who attend high-poverty schools in order to qualify them for the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program.

The timing is key because the agency is preparing to transition the program from a pandemic relief subsidy to a permanent program under the new infrastructure law. The law slated $14 billion for a subsequent version of the pandemic subsidy, retitled the Affordable Connectivity Program. The monthly benefit will drop from $50 to $30.

One way to qualify for the subsidy is to have a child who is eligible for free or reduced-price school food under the USDA National School Lunch Program’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). These meals are available to any child who attends certain high-poverty schools and school districts, regardless of their family’s income. Under the subsidy program’s eligibility rules, if a household has a child who attends a qualifying CEP school, it can enroll for the FCC’s aid. Continue Reading

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