After qualifying for free government internet, the next logical action is to find the right Internet service provider (ISP). But which ISP provides the most affordable high-speed internet?
Before answering that question, you must compare several ISPs, their internet speeds, and prices. While most internet providers do not provide free internet, the subsidized program by the government is one way to get free government internet.
This article provides a comprehensive free government internet provider list to help you decide about signing up for subsidized internet. The following are the 10 best ISPs in this category:
The 10 Best Free Government Internet Service Provider List
Altice has two ISPs, Optimum and Suddenlink, with each of them connecting customers to the Altice Advantage Internet with maximum speeds of 30 Mbps and a price of $14.99 per month. The in-house subsidized internet is for households with a child on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a senior on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or a military veteran on public assistance.
Besides, the Altice offers an affordable connectivity program through which the government subsidizes internet services. Qualifying households receive a monthly credit of up to $30 to pay for internet services from the ISP.
Whether you’re a new or old user of Altice internet services, you can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) if you qualify. First, your income should be below 200% of the prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Other considerations include membership in Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition programs, food stamps, National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Community Eligibility Program (CEP), and Federal Pell Grant.
While the program covers internet and phone services, households must pick one. Only the qualifying household can utilize the program and not transfer it to another household, regardless of qualifying. Potential users can get more information at ACPBenefit.org.
With the AT&T Access programs, low-income households get a maximum internet speed of 10 Mbps for between $5 and $10. This program was available to AT&T customers before the government introduced the free internet program.
Once you factor in the government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the monthly cost for your internet can be as low as $0. After the launch of the ACP, AT&T improved its Access program from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbp. It costs anything from $10 to $30 per month. Besides, the new Access program has no data limit.
Households qualifying for ACP automatically qualify for the AT&T Access program, complete with the 100 Mbps offer. Therefore, families that get $30/month or $75/month (for those living in tribal lands) can get internet for free.
How can you access the ACP program with AT&T? the first step involves confirming that you qualify for the program by checking the ACP website. Alternatively, you can apply directly via the AT&T website and get redirected to www.ACPbenefit.org.
The Covid-19 Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) users can migrate automatically to the ACP program. While the minimum monthly subsidy for EBB was $50, that for ACP is $30.
With more than 28 million customers in 41 American states, Spectrum is one of the most widely available ISPs. It provides competitive internet speeds of up to 200 Mbps and a $50 subsidized rate for the first year. After that, you get to pay $75/month for subsequent years. The maximum internet speed on Spectrum is 940 Mbps.
But that’s for the customers who can afford it. Low-income households can also access the internet from Spectrum by taking advantage of a 30 Mbps package available for $14.99. Spectrum calls the program Internet Assist a welcome program for new subscribers.
Qualifying households are those in which at least one member is in the NSLP, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Community Eligibility Program (CEP). The $14.99 monthly charge is for cable internet. Those who wish to get Wi-Fi must pay an additional $5.00.
Despite being a subsidized internet package, the Spectrum Internet Assist program has no data cap. Besides, you don’t need to sign a contract to qualify for this particular package. Spectrum offers the package to both existing and new customers.
Verizon Fios is a 100% fiber optic internet network, providing high-speed internet of 940 Mbps. Subscribers to this network get faster download speeds, ultra-low latency, faster upload speeds, and smoother video streaming.
Once you subscribe to a package, you only get to pay for that with no extra charges. The good thing about Verizon Fios is that it comes with whole-home Wi-Fi, TV packages, and telephone services. Subscribers pay at least $13.99 to access Verizon Fios internet services.
If you’re from a low-income household and need internet services, you can take advantage of the government-subsidized ACP. Through the program, the government assists low-income families in paying for internet services.
Eligible households pay $30 per month if they live with the general population or $75 for those living in tribal lands. That should be enough to cover internet costs and enable households to access the net free of charge.
Besides, Verizon Fios also works under the Lifeline program, offering a $9.95 discount. Considering an additional $20 discount and $39.99/month lowest pricing tier, Verizon Fios can be available at $10.04/month. Check out the criterion for enjoying subsidized internet via Verizon Fios.
5. Comcast Xfinity
The most affordable internet package on the Comcast Xfinity starts at $29.99/month for 12 months, providing a maximum speed of 300 Mbps. Subscribers can access maximum internet speeds of 3,000 Mbps, which is industry-leading. Its internet services are available via cable, fiber optic, and Wi-Fi.
Low-income households can subscribe to the internet via the Internet Essentials program, available for $9.95/month as part of the FCC Lifeline program. Even though there are no activation fees for the services, users can enjoy internet speeds of up to $50 Mbps.
The Internet Essentials program aims to make life easier for low-income households, seniors, and students. In addition to a cable internet connection, subscribers also enjoy free home Wi-Fi without a credit check.
Eligible households have at least one member in the SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, Housing Assistance, and NSLP. However, they have to live in an area with reliable Comcast coverage. Finally, existing Xfinity internet customers who have no outstanding debt can enroll in the program.
Comcast has taken steps to waive the requirements for past customers to clear their outstanding debts until June 30, 2022. Standard eligibility rules for Internet Essentials will apply after June 30.
Mediacom is one of the few ISPs in the U.S. with the capability of providing gigabit internet speeds to most of their subscribers. With upload speeds at 50 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps for paying customers, it is a go-to service for cable and fiber optic internet providers.
It offers over 7.7 million subscribers internet services, making it the fifth-largest ISP nationally. If you live in the Gulf Coast, Midwest, California, Arizona, and the Eastern Seaboard, this is an ISP worth considering.
The most affordable internet package starts at $20, providing a 200GB data cap. For 1,000 Mbps download speed, customers pay $70/month.
Mediacom is one of the leading participants in the Connect2Complete program, which is why it’s on the free government internet provider list. For a $9.95/month price, Mediacom provides affordable internet to Households in which at least one member is enrolled for NSLP.
Those wishing to apply for subsidized internet via Mediacom can check the ISP’s website if they meet the eligibility criteria. If that seems like too much, they can call 1-855-904-2225.
Cox Communications is a nationwide ISP providing high-speed cable internet to over 20 million subscribers across the U.S. However, Cox is one of the priciest ISPs in America, with rates starting at $40/month for 25 Mbps download speeds. At the highest download speed of 940 Mbps, customers pay $110.
For low-income households, Cox’s internet starts at $9.95/month. The only catch is that at least one family member should be participating in a government assistance program. Even though there is no credit check, applicants must provide documents proving their eligibility.
As part of Connect2Complete, the Cox Communication low-income internet is great for helping K-12 students to study at home over the internet. Apart from other eligibility criteria, households need to have at least one kid in grades 1 to 12.
Some of the Eligibility Criteria for the Connect2Complete program include the following:
- Participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- Public housing
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Did you know that you can enjoy the Lifeline subsidized internet program on Frontier? Under the Frontier Lifeline program, low-income households receive government support in paying for internet or telephone services.
Customers can participate in the Lifeline or Link-Up/Tribal Lifeline program depending on where they live. Even though it’s available in 24 states, Frontier might not be offering services near you. That’s why you need to check on their website for the availability of Frontier internet near you.
Instead of having special packages for low-income households, Frontier maintains its regular prices and deducts the $9.25 Lifeline discount. For example, the company’s most affordable plan, which starts at $29.99/month, would be available for $20.74 after applying the discount.
With that, customers can enjoy download speeds of 9 Mbps and 115 Mbps on cable internet and between 500 Mbps and 2 Gbps on fiber optic cable internet. While the Frontier subsidized internet service is not completely free, it can get low-income households off to a good start.
Qualifying households must meet the eligibility criteria established by the federal government. Due to the varying quality of services, prospective customers should consult Frontier customer service.
9. Internet Essentials
Internet Essentials by Comcast has a subsidized internet program that starts at $9.95/month, with a $150 subsidized computer. Internet users get Xfinity cable internet service on this package with up to 10 Mbps to download speeds. Unlike standard packages that require the rental of a modem and Wi-Fi router, low-income households get these devices free of charge.
The program is available to Households with at least one kid eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Also eligible are those in the Seniors Pilot Program, HUD Housing Assistance Households, and the Community College Student Pilot Program.
Additionally, Internet Essentials offers the ACP program, available at $30/month. Low-income households can apply for subsidized internet right on the Internet Essentials website.
Apart from filling out a form, they have to provide copies of identification documents and proof of eligibility. Within 48 hours, users receive an update on the status of their application. Eligible households must have at least Medicaid, VA Pension, Tribal Assistance, WIC, NSLP, SSI, TANF, SNAP, and public housing.
Residential Communication Network (RCN) has very affordable packages for first-time subscribers, starting at $19.99/month in the first year. In the second year, the monthly rate shoots up to $148, which is quite expensive. The download speed ranges from 300 Mbps to 940 Mbps.
If you cannot afford regular internet packages from RCN, you might as well enroll in the subsidized internet program. The RCN Lifeline program offers a $9.25 discount on regular internet prices.
With the most affordable package at RCN starting at $19.99, low-income households get to pay only $10.74, which isn’t completely free but affordable.
Eligible households must need specific criteria, including Medicaid, SSI, FPHA, SNAP, and Tribal Factors. While the regular low-income program has a $9.25 discount, the tribal program has an additional discount of $25. If you live in tribal lands, the aggregate $34.25 discount could easily result in no-cost internet.
The free government internet list above provides insight into some of the best-subsidized internet providers in the U.S. While some of the ISPs offer free internet to low-income households after the discount, others may still require you to pay the balance.
It is important to check whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria before applying for subsidized internet. If you do, check for an ISP with services in your area. Apart from the likelihood of getting free internet, you should also check the kind of internet speeds provided by the ISP.
Frequently Asked Questions
A free government internet service provider is an organization or company that provides free or low-cost internet access to individuals or families who meet certain eligibility criteria. These programs are often offered by government agencies and non-profit organizations to help bridge the digital divide and provide access to essential online services.
Eligibility for free government internet service providers varies depending on the program. Some programs are only available to low-income families, while others may be available to individuals with disabilities or seniors. Some programs also require that applicants participate in certain government assistance programs, such as Medicaid or SNAP.
The type of internet connection provided by free government internet service providers may vary depending on the program. Some programs offer high-speed internet, while others may only provide basic internet service. In some cases, the connection may be wired, while in other cases it may be wireless or mobile.
To apply for free government internet service providers, you will need to check the eligibility requirements for each program and fill out an application. Some programs may require you to provide documentation of your income or participation in government assistance programs. You may also need to provide proof of address and identity.
Some of the best free government internet service providers include programs like Lifeline, which is offered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Internet Essentials, which is offered by Comcast. Other programs include Connect2Compete, which is offered by Cox Communications, and Access from AT&T. Eligibility criteria, internet speeds, and availability may vary by location, so it is important to check each program’s website for details.