Get free or low cost internet access.

Today, internet connection is a necessity, and it is needed in every household. There are assistance programs that provide free Internet access to low income families, students, and household living in poverty. This is even more valuable as many lower income as well as rural area families often struggle to either pay for it or have access to it.

The internet provides access to a wealth of information. It can help people with learning new skills, staying connected with friends/ family, finding a job completing work or school projects and earning an income or starting a business. This is why having free internet access or government assistance to pay for it is so critical in today’s day and age.

Internet connectivity makes our lives easier with instant communication, online shopping, banking, and entertainment. Yet, millions of Americans, especially in the rural areas lack critical connection to a wealth of opportunities, and as a result, they are unable to take advantage of educational and economic activities.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), over 60 million Americans are living without reliable internet connection.  Almost every educational and economic activity rely on internet connectivity. And, as a result, there is a digital gap in lower-income households with an annual income of less than $30,000.

Lack of free or low cost internet connection is an issue for school-aged kids. The National telecommunication reported that over 17% of teens are faced with an academic burden and are unable to complete homework assignments with a lack of reliable internet.

The average cost for high-speed Internet package is around $70 per month, not including electricity, installment and equipment fees. Fortunately, there are many free and low-cost programs for low-income families, seniors, and students to make internet access more affordable and accessible. Most of these programs are government funded or private offerings that can help to reduce broadband service cost.

 

 

 

 

Low-Cost or Free Internet Plans

Access by AT&T: A low-cost wireless home internet plan for low-income households. Access by AT&T provides high-speed internet service for $5-$10 per month. At least one person of your household should receive SSI or SNAP benefits to be qualified.

Comcast Internet Essentials: Offers affordable home internet service for just $9.95 per month– with no contract, credit check or installation fees. You automatically qualify for the Internet Essentials package if your child participates in the school lunch program, you are receiving HUD housing assistance, a low-income senior, a community college student in Colorado or Illinois or a verified low-income veteran. You will also have the option to purchase a laptop or desktop computer for only $149.

Spectrum Internet Assist- Provides affordable high-speed internet connection to low-income families, students and seniors for just $14.99 per month.

PCs for People: A nonprofit organization that provides low-cost computers and free or affordable internet connection for low-income households. Potential recipients must be living below the 200% poverty level and currently enrolled in a government assistance program. PC for people offers high-speed internet for only $11.25 per month with no credit check or hidden fees. You will also be eligible to receive affordable PC or laptop repair for as low $25.

 

 

 

 

Mediacom Connect2Compete: A cable and communication provider that offers an affordable home internet service plan for students and families across the country. The connect2compete plan is only $9.95 per month with up to 10 Mbps data. To be eligible, at least one child in grade K-12 must be living at home or receiving free or reduced school lunch. There are no installment, deposit or equipment fees.

Altice Advantage Internet: Get up to 30 Mbps for only $14.95 per month, plus free smart router and modem. At least one member of your household must participate in the federally funded National School Lunch Program; or a New York City student, receiving SSI or 65 years of age or older.

Eagle Communications:  Offers a Connect 2 compete (C2C) program to families who qualify for free lunches through the National School Lunch Program to 5 Mb of high-speed internet service for only $9.95 per month, plus a free modem for two years.

LifeLine BroadBand: A free government assistance program that provides discount phone and internet services to low-income consumers. Lifeline broadband plan cost $9.25 per month with voice minutes and high-speed internet. This program is available to anyone who with an income at or below the poverty level of 135%, applicants who are receiving SNAP, SSI, federal public housing assistance, in poverty, National School Lunch Program or veterans pension.

Certain cable and Internet providers are providing low cost access to individuals or families with children that meet certain income qualifications. The federal government and the FCC have been partnering with organizations, such as Comcast, in an effort to expand the reach of the Internet to households that may not have otherwise been able to afford the service on their own.

In addition to offering programs such as Internet Essentials for households with children, some families may even be able to receive a low cost computer from Comcast. Other programs may also help eliminate any past due fees or bills that the customer is currently faced with. Also, there have been periods of time when free internet access has been available for a defined period of time. So there are number of resources available for income qualified families, as having access to the Internet is a critical utility type service that all families should be entitled too.

Companies that offer reduced priced Internet access or inexpensive computers

With over one million people enrolled nationwide, the Internet Essentials program from Comcast is the largest by far. There are a number of conditions that need to be met by applicants as this is a regular utility type company, and the terms of the program can also change at any time. Some of them include the following.

This service will only be available in territories that Comcast covers. So the applicant to the program needs to live where they can provide service too. So if you are only covered by Time Warner, Verizon, or another provider, you will need to call those companies for any assistance they may offer.

 

 

 

The reduced prices will only be provided to families that have one or more children enrolled into the federal government National School Lunch Program. If someone has not enrolled into this program, but think they may qualify, now is the time to enroll the student.

In order to receive the low cost access to the Internet, the customer can’t be a current Comcast subscriber. The timeframe will normally be for the last 3 months, but this can change as well.

In general, there can’t have any outstanding bills on their account. However, there have been periods of time in which this condition has been waived. There are even cases in which Comcast has eliminated any past due fees, charges, or debts on the customers cable account in order to help with the enrollment process.

While the pricing can change, if found to be qualified, the monthly charge for their high speed Internet access could be as low as $9 to $11 per month. There may be constraints on the download speeds, but it will still be much faster than a dial up or some other type of connection.

Some promotions may be occasionally available as well that can provide other benefits to families. There have been instances in which the high speed Internet service has been provided completely for free for a period of time, such as 6 months. This will usually be for new customers that just enrolled and will also come with other conditions.

This Internet Essentials service is being offered due to some regulations put into place by the FCC in dealing with Comcast and other utility or cable companies. It is intended to ensure that children from lower income or working poor families have access to the Internet for school, research, and other needs. Another benefit is that their parents could also use the service for employment or job seeking needs, such as working from home or taking online classes.

Comcast will even offer some other financial assistance programs from time to time, such as distributing free or low cost computers. Many of the same terms and conditions as above will apply, such as the home needs to have a child, meet low income or poverty guidelines, and more. The computer may be sold for as little as a couple hundred dollars, and when combined with the low cost Internet access, this can truly benefit a family.

 

 

 

 

The computer will also come with software, such as Microsoft Office, and Comcast will even arrange some form of training for the customer. It is configured so the family can connect to the Internet right away with as little hassle as possible. The availability of this program can also help students that would otherwise go without availability of a computer during the back to school period.

For more information on affordable or free Internet access or a low cost computer from Comcast through the Essential program, call 1-855-846-8376. Or call your own utility or cable company or other Internet provider to inquire with them if they offer similar services.

Another company to contact is CenturyLink. This provider will offer discounted high speed service to very low income families or those that receive public aid. It operates under many of the same terms and conditions as noted above, and learn more on CenturyLink Internet Basics discounted service.

Free Wifi At Home

FreedomPop.com: A wireless and virtual network that offers free and affordable internet as well as phone service. FreedomPop comes with a FREE basic plan of up to 200 minutes of talk, 500 text messages and 500 MG of data. The home internet service plan comes with a free trial of 2GB hotspot, free charger, battery, and set-up. You will also receive up to 50% off on smartphones and other products to stay connected.

NetZero.net- A broadband internet company that provides high-quality, low-cost internet service for over 20 years. NetZero comes with a free dial-up connection plan that offers 10 hours per month of high-speed internet access free of charge. NetZero also offers a free mobile plan of up to 200MB data per month.

Locations With Free WiFi

Check your local library: Public libraries across the country offers wireless internet connection to all visitors during hours of operation free of charge. You will be able to connect your devices through the library network to access the internet. The library also offers public computers that can be used for job searching, research and other activities.

Colleges/Universities: Colleges usually have an open and secured Wifi network that covers the campus area. Anyone can connect to campus wifi, and there is a guest wifi option for visitors.

Public Space: Free Wifi can be found in any neighborhood and public spaces. Starbucks, McDonald's, coffee shops, fast food chains, airports are some common places to find free wireless hotspots. You will find a listing of nearby shops and restaurants on Yelp that offers complimentary Wi-Fi to guests

Major cities such as San Francisco and NYC provide free public wifi to some extent with the CityWide wireless network, also known as blanket wifi across cities. Visit WifiFreeSpot.com-- for an organized database of free wifi hotspot locations in the US.

 

 

 

 

A lack of internet connection will only deny you of educational and economic opportunities. As mentioned above, there are many affordable or free internet packages as well as assistance programs to help you stay connected and to help lower your monthly bills.

 

By Jon McNamara

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