COVID-19 has forced many people to work and study from home. A number of internet providers have pledged to the FCC to help customers stay connected to the internet during this crisis.
Maybe. Earlier this year, many internet providers agreed to:
- Not disconnect internet or phone
- Waive late fees for nonpayment due to COVID-19
- Provide free wi-fi hotspots
While this program ended on June 30, some internet providers may continue to honor some or all of these policies. Contact your provider.
EveryoneOn.org has an easy-to-use tool to help you find low-income internet in your area. You must income-qualify for most offers. Find the tool here at https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers. Also, see below for a list of low-income programs and special COVID-19 programs.
You must receive public benefits to be eligible for most of these programs:
- Access (from AT&T) is a low-cost program that starts at five dollars a month. See more here.
- Altice Advantage offers 30 mbps internet access for $14.95 per month for those who qualify. See more here.
- ConnectAll is a service where you pay $110.95 up front and then get continued internet access for $11.95 per month. The $11.95 for the first month is in addition to the connection fee. Speeds are up to 150 mbps and there is no data limit. While some generous income restrictions may apply, you do not have to receive public benefits to be eligible. See more here.
- Cox offers internet for $9.95 per month to eligible households. See more here.
- Internet Essentials (from Comcast/Xfinity) is a low-income, $9.95 per month internet service. While you are normally not eligible if you have unpaid Comcast/Xfinity bills, the program is waiving this requirement until December 31, 2020. Internet Essentials is also offering two free months of internet service to qualifying customers. See more here.
- Google Fiber offers 25 mbps internet for $15.00 per month. Contact for eligibility. See more here.
- LifeLine is a federal program that offers up to a $9.25 credit toward phone or internet service if you qualify. There may be additional discounts available for low-income subscribers, so be sure to ask. See more here.
- PCs for People offers internet as low as $15.00 per month plus an initial $80 dollars to purchase a modem. You may need to purchase at least three months upfront to receive this discount. Service is open to anyone under 200% of the federal poverty level as well as anyone who gets public benefits. (Note: Poverty level guidelines posted on the PCs for People site are out of date.) It is also open to anyone who receives public benefits. See more here.
- Spectrum Internet Assist provides low-cost internet to SSI recipients over 65 as well as households that participate in the National School Lunch Program or Community Eligibility Provision meal program. See more here.
Many providers are also offering special programs due to COVID-19. You do not need to show low income to participate in the following programs:
- AT&T will add 15GB of data to all hotspot plans through June 30. See more here.
- FreedomPop offers free internet access. Be aware that data limits apply and can be very limited - especially after the first month. You may be responsible for charges if you go over the data limit. This may be a good option if you are highly disciplined in your data usage. See more here.
- Spectrum has offered 60 days worth of free internet to new subscribers who have children K-12. Spectrum also offers 30 days of free internet to new business customers. See more here.
- Xfinity is offering free WiFi hotspots in some areas. See more here.
Some local governments also help residents with internet access:
- San Antonio: San Antonio's Fair Housing program helps with internet access as well as rent, mortgage, and utility payments. See if the program can help you at https://www.sanantonio.gov/NHSD/Programs/FairHousing.
Some schools are doing their best to provide internet access to students. Austin, for example, has a fleet of buses that provide WiFi throughout the school district. (If you live in Austin, see Austin Independent School District's website and this CNN article for details.)
For information on whether your child's school district helps provide access to the internet and online classes, go to the school's website, school district's website, or contact your school administrators.