The 2020 pandemic has brought home certain aspects of our lives to the forefront that we had previously taken for granted. Internet connectivity topped the list as businesses were forced to work remotely, educational institutions began online teaching, and we needed the internet more than ever to remain sane under lockdown.
Moreover, the crisis also highlighted the huge gap in internet access across the residents of the United States. With some residing in far-flung areas with no access to minimum high-speed broadband speeds, while some did not even have any provider available in the area. And there are many who cannot afford basic internet connectivity despite providers’ availability in their areas.
Luckily, many top internet providers in the US have come up with multiple ways to deliver free or low-cost internet services to residents suffering from a financial crisis.
Which ISPs in the U.S. Offer Free or Low-Cost Internet Services?
A lot of internet providers like AT&T and Spectrum already offered internet services to low-income families via special programs. But many of the low-cost internet schemes cropped up when the worst of the pandemic hit us. Some ISPs even offered free internet for 30 to 60 days during the Covid-19 crisis.
The FCC, in response to the pandemic, began the Keep Americans Connected Initiative on March 13, 2020, which specifically requested Phone and Internet Service Providers to keep Americans connected during the crisis. The initiative was much needed as Americans struggled to pay their broadband and phone bills due to economic distress.
The terms of the pledge are as follows:
- “not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
- waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
- open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.”
More than 800 telecom companies and associations signed the pledge, and many delivered free internet access till June 30, 2020. However, many providers aren’t charging data overage fees, which allows residents to enjoy unlimited internet data without paying extra. Plus, providers below are still waiving other service fees and are offering low-cost internet services.
- Charter Spectrum™
- Mediacom Cable
- Comcast Xfinity
There are different criteria to qualify free or low-cost internet programs with each Internet Provider. The internet speeds and perks associated with the program differs as well. So you will need to deep dive into the intricacies of providers’ schemes.
How to Get Free or Low-Cost AT&T Internet?
AT&T was among the providers who signed the FCC pledge not to charge late fees or terminate their services till June 30, 2020. The provider offered unlimited data allowance for its home internet and fixed wireless customers. It also waived wireless voice and data overage charges for its customers.
AT&T brought in new offers as a response to the covid-19 pandemic. The provider offered free data plans to eligible school-issued tablets for 60 days, generated funds of around $10 million to help support virtual learning, offered telehealth services to business customers such as hospitals, and also came up with promotional and discounted deals for first responders and their families such as free smartphones with an unlimited data plan. For physicians and nurses at the frontline, AT&T offers free wireless services for three months.
Moreover, Access from AT&T program offers internet services to low-income families in the US. Previously, the provider chose eligible families based on income or one of the family members should be a participant of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But it now expanded it for households participating in National School Lunch and Head Start Programs. Plus, the program waives data overage charges for all of its internet services except for DSL.
For new customers, AT&T Internet Prices have become more affordable than ever. So if you are looking for a new provider, now will be a good time to switch and take advantage of AT&T promo prices.
How to Get Free or Low-Cost Charter Spectrum Internet™?
Charter Spectrum™ is another one of the providers who became a part of the 2020 FCC pledge. Which spurred the company to waive late fee charges and avoid terminating its services due to late or no payments of bills.
Plus, the company offered free Spectrum internet and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to its new customers, who had k-12 students or college students in their household, and offered to conduct free installations. The 100 Mbps speeds offered by Charter Spectrum helped students continue with their online classes. Spectrum already offers unlimited internet data so its customers never have to worry about limited data or data overage fees anyway.
Before the covid-19 pandemic, Charter Spectrum already had a program in place, which offered internet access to low-income households. The Spectrum Internet Assist Program offers up to 30 Mbps of high-speed internet, free internet modem with no data caps, and contracts at just $14.99/month exclusive of taxes. You can even opt for Wi-Fi equipment, which is just $5/mo. There are no price hikes and no hidden charges involved in this program.
The eligibility criteria for Spectrum Assist program requires the household to be a recipient of one of the following programs:
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
- Supplemental Security Income (for applicants age 65+ only)
How to Get Low-Cost Comcast Xfinity Internet
Comcast Xfinity is one of the providers who signed FCC’s pledge, which resulted in waiving of late fees and eschewing from terminating their services despite late fees.
Before Covid-19, Comcast Xfinity designed a plan to help low-income families, students, and senior citizens. The Xfinity Internet Essentials Program offers low-cost internet services to its qualifying customers. The plan just costs $9.95/mo. + tax and delivers up to 25 Mbps internet speeds along with free home Wi-Fi. Plus, it doesn’t require a credit check or any contracts.
In its Internet Essential Programs, the provider offers computers at low cost to its eligible customers. They can choose between a desktop computer or laptop, which will come equipped with Microsoft Office, Norton Security Suite, and a 90-day warranty for just $149.
To qualify, at least one member of the household must be a participant of the National School Lunch Program and must fulfill a few other requirements
How to Get Low-Cost Mediacom Internet?
Mediacom also signed the FCC pledged and honored its part of the bargain during the required time frame. Mediacom reduced its Access Internet 60 pricing from $29.99/mo. to $19.99/mo. for 12 months for its new customers and suspended all data caps for its service tiers.
Regardless of the pandemic, Mediacom has been a participant of the Connect2Compete program, which offers internet services to low-income households. The programs offer 25 Mbps of internet speeds at just $9.95/mo. plus taxes. The program requires its applicants to have at least one family member a participant of NSLP or a student in grade k-12 residing at home.
There are no contracts, no deposits, no installation fees, no rental fees for equipment, and no charges for Wi-Fi modem. It is that simple and affordable.
Sign Up for a Low-Cost Internet Plan Today!
So here is the nitty-gritty of what each provider was/is offering in terms of free or low-cost internet services. If you meet the provider’s requirements for eligibility, then make sure to apply for the program and get yourself affordable internet services.