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.
The new Emergency Broadband Benefit can give you up to $50 a month to help with internet access. Up to $75 a month is available on tribal lands. This is in addition to any federal Lifeline benefits you may receive.
You may also be able to get $100 to help you purchase a tablet or computer.
The Federal Communications Commission runs the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. See if you qualify.
Maybe. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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, 2020 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.
- 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 June 30, 2021. Internet Essentials is also offering two free months of internet service to qualifying customers. 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 payment 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 (Note: Poverty level guidelines posted on the PCs for People site are out of date.)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:
- 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.
- Xfinity is offering free WiFi hotspots in some areas. See more here.
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 School Bus Wi-Fi Map.)
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.