This page will be updated continuously to reflect the most recent information on the coronavirus. This page was last updated on December 31, 2020.
On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (COVID relief law) to provide continued relief to American families and businesses struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes additional assistance to help Hawaii individuals and families stay connected. As part of the COVID relief law,Congress allocated more than $7 billion to support broadband connections for low-income households, households with residents who became unemployed during the pandemic, minority communities, tribal communities, and unserved communities.
Emergency Broadband Connections
- The COVID relief law provides $3.5 billion to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a program to help low-income Americans, including those economically-challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, get connected or remain connected to broadband.
- The program will supply a $50 per month subsidy to qualifying households to help them afford broadband service and an internet connected device.
- The subsidy increases to $75 per month for those living on tribal lands.
- Qualifying households will include households with at least one individual who is eligible for the Lifeline Program, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or a Pell Grant, or who has experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020. Other households may qualify depending on rules established by the FCC.
- Internet service providers will have more details about the program, including whether they are participating.
Connecting Minority Communities
- The COVID relief law also establishes an Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
- The office will appropriate $285 million to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal colleges and universities, and minority serving education institutions.
Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant Program
- The COVID relief law also creates a $1 billion grant program at the NTIA to support broadband deployment and infrastructure, telehealth, broadband mapping and affordability, distance learning, and digital inclusion for Native American communities.
- A minimum of $30 million is designated for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to support Native Hawaiian communities.
Broadband Expansion for Unserved Americans
- The COVID relief law establishes a $300 million broadband deployment grant program at NTIA to support broadband infrastructure deployment to areas lacking broadband, with a focus on rural areas.
- The grants will be prioritized to qualifying partnerships between state and local governments and fixed broadband providers.
Improving Broadband Mapping
- The COVID relief law directs $65 million to the FCC to develop more accurate and granular availability maps as directed by Congress in the Broadband DATA Act. This is in addition to the $33 million appropriated by Congress to improve mapping
Remove and Replace Unsecure Communications Equipment
- The COVID relief law provides $1.9 billion to the FCC’s reimbursement program to remove unsecure communications equipment from the nation’s communications networks.
Broadband Loans and Grants for Rural Areas
- The COVID relief law provides $767 million to the Department of Agriculture to provide and expand grants under the Community Connect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, and ReConnect Pilot Program.
Resources from ISPs
- Depending on your provider, you may have access to new free or low-cost internet resources during the COVID-19 crisis. Please check each company’s website (linked below) as plans and updates may change for current and new customers.