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It's impossible to imagine life without the internet, especially since the pandemic is forcing people to find ways to work from home. Schools and other educational institutions assume that we all have the Internet for research and self-study. But what about families who can't afford the latest and greatest broadband technology? Fortunately, low-income families can get free or cheap internet; so.
Cheap Internet For Low Income Families
Great strides are being made to bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone on Earth has Internet access. Many companies and organizations jumped in and did their part to make this happen. Let's take a look at some of the most effective ways for low-income families to get cheap or even free internet.
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President Biden and Vice President Harris are working on creating a program to help low-income families in the US get affordable Internet access. This program is known as the Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP. The goal is to provide an Internet connection as cheaply as possible, but consistently under $30 per month.
Twenty authorized partner ISPs have agreed to provide a reliable Internet connection with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps for $30 or less per month. Eligible families can join the US government's ACP benefits program, which gives them a subsidy of $30 per month, essentially giving them free Internet access.
Eligible families can also sign up for any alternative Internet connection with more than 1,300 different ISPs and use their subsidy to get a $30 monthly discount on the Internet. Anyone can check their eligibility and apply for benefits on the official White House GetInternet website.
Altice currently offers free 50Mbps service for up to 60 days, after that it's only about $15 per month, which is still very affordable. Altice Optimum Advantage service is available to the following households:
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This offer applies to both Optimum and Suddenlink connections, so anyone living in an area that offers both can use Altice's Advantage service. Apart from that, Altice is also one of the internet service providers who are members of the country's ACP, so you can get free internet connection forever with government support.
HBC is one of the most well-known ISPs in the United States and one of the first to offer support to families impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020. HBC immediately announced it would stop disconnecting users for non-payments and even waive all late fees. To date, HBC has not canceled this policy.
HBC has also offered an Internet Assistance program for more than a decade. This program provides free or low-cost internet access to all primary school children living in HBC catchment areas. This option is still available and households can register through the school system.
Finally, HBC is also a partner in the government's affordable connection program, so if you complete the process above, you can apply for a $30 subsidy to get free high-speed internet through HBC.
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Comcast Xfinity offers a plan called Internet Essentials, which is an affordable Internet plan for eligible households. With this plan, you can get a reliable 50 Mbps Internet connection for only $10 per month.
On top of that, Comcast Xfinity is also an ACP member, which means you get completely free internet. If you choose the ACP option, you can choose between 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps Internet, with all devices free Internet access.
Some ISPs do so much to provide free or low-cost internet to people who qualify as AT&T. First, the company offers unlimited internet service at a discounted rate for healthcare providers and first responder families. But AT&T also partners with the ACP program through AT&T Access.
AT&T access is not limited to ACP countries. You can get Access plans separately from ACP countries, and in return you get the fastest Internet connection in your area, up to 100 Mbps, for $30 a month. This includes unlimited data. You can get AT&T Access if you qualify for one of the following government subsidy programs:
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You can also apply for Access if your annual household income is less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
But the Access plan has exactly the same eligibility criteria as the ACP, so if you demonstrate ACP eligibility first before applying for AT&T Access, you'll get a completely free internet connection thanks to government ACP subsidies.
The first is Cox ConnectAssist. This is a plan developed for people who are enrolled in government assistance programs such as Medicaid or SNAP. It offers 100 Mbps Internet access for up to five devices for $30 per month. The internet connection is optimized for web browsing, light streaming, and social media use, so it's not designed for heavy usage like Netflix or large downloads.
The ConnectAssist service also includes free access to all Cox-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots (over 3 million across the US).
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Another option is Cox Connect2Compete. This package is specifically aimed at households with at least one government assistance program and children attending primary school. It includes many of the same features as ConnectAssist, but you also get free access to Cox Digital Academy, an online portal full of educational resources.
Another great thing about Connect2Compete is the price. It costs a third of the price of ConnectAssist, just $10 per month.
But Cox also partners with the Affordable Connectivity Program, so if you qualify for ACP, you can get ConnectAssist or Connect2Compete 100% free through government subsidies.
Mediacom's Connect2Compete service offers unlimited Internet access of up to 25 Mbps for about $10 per month, available to every household with children in primary school. However there is also a Connect2Compete Plus option with speeds up to 100Mbps for $30 per month, but for that you have to be prepared with ACP.
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This service is not as feature rich as the service offered by Cox. For example, they don't include access to Cox Digital Academy. But Cox isn't available everywhere. For those who live outside of Cox's coverage area, or for those who for some reason don't want to go through Cox, Mediacom offers the same Internet service for the same price of $10 or free through ACP countries.
Synergy Charity is a charity service founded by Internet service provider Synergy Internet. Charities accept donations from people and businesses, sometimes in the form of donated real estate, to provide fast and reliable Internet access to low-income families and households through the Internet Assistance Program (IAP), an independent and segregated ACP.
Eligible individuals or families can get Internet access from either Synergy Internet, Spectrum or Verizon Fios. Occasionally, when none of these options are available in an area, Synergy may accept another ISP to use. However, Spectrum and Verizon have officially partnered with Synergy for the Internet Help program.
Because the Internet Help program is charitable in nature, there is no guarantee that you will be connected when you register. It all depends on the number of charitable grants available at any given time. However, it is recommended that you reapply every six months until your application is approved.
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NetZero Free Dial-up Internet looks like a blast from the past (even the web pages look like something from the 90s), and for good reason. Through its free service, NetZero offers up to ten hours of completely free internet per month, but it comes with two limitations:
FreedomPop offers a SIM card with limited free internet access. The free plan only gives you a sim card, you don't get a cell phone with it, but the service is completely free, albeit very limited. You only get 25MB of data, which means just a few minutes of browsing will eat it all up. But you also get 10 minutes of free calling and ten text messages.
FreedomPop may not be the ideal long-term solution for heavy internet use, but it's good to have a SIM card that can give you a free connection when you need it. A one-time fee is $10, but after that you can use it for free until your data allowance runs out, until the next month, when it will be recharged again. You can also upgrade to a paid service at any time.
The free internet services are all from established and trusted ISPs, so you can trust them as you would any ISP. They collect your personal information and can sell it (legally) at any time. They all follow the same basic privacy practices, so there's no difference even if they're free.
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