As we limit our time in public during this pandemic, staying connected with others is more important than ever. Many people substitute virtual for in-person meetings, connecting by phone or video calls with family, friends, work and school. As we experience online conversations and meetings, adequate technology and internet access are essential.
Free and low-cost phone and internet programs are available for those who may need help accessing connectivity.
Get a free phone
LifeLine is a federal program funded by telecommunications fees that provides free phones and minutes to qualified individuals. If you are enrolled in another assistance program or receive a specified low income, you may quality for a free phone for your household. Services and cell phones available vary by LifeLine carrier. See if you qualify. To get Lifeline, find a company near you.
More data for students
Studying at home means a lot of time online on a computer or tablet, and companies are offering services to meet this demand. Sprint is doubling the 1Million Project’s data allotment from 10 GB to 20 GB per month through June 30, 2020, allowing more data for participating high school students. Similarly, T-Mobile is increasing the data allowance to schools and students using its EmpowerED digital learning programs at no cost. Each participant now has access to at least 20GB of data per month for the next 60 days.
Internet access at home at reduced rates
AT&T offers internet access for households with certain limited incomes at $10 a month through its Access from AT&T program. AT&T expanded eligibility to households participating in the National School Lunch Program and Head Start. Additionally, the company will offer new Access from AT&T customers two months of free service.
Comcast is taking steps to implement the following new policies for 60 days as well as other important initiatives like free Xfinity WiFi for everyone with Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country, including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. Check out this map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinityifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.
Comcast is also giving all customers unlimited data at no additional charge for 60 days. The Internet Essentials program is available to all qualified low-income households in Comcast’s service area. It offers low-cost internet service for $9.95/month, the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer for under $150, and access to digital skills training materials online, in print and in-person. Any new Internet Essentials customer receives two months of internet service at no cost, effective immediately. Click here to apply.
Many other Internet Service Providers are providing free or discount broadband plans. Learn more.
With these no- and low-cost resources, now is a good time to get the connectivity you need to support your household’s online needs. If you already have a different cell phone and internet provider, consider reaching out and asking if they have any programs or services to boost your internet access or reduce costs.
With good internet connectivity, you can take advantage of online learning, build skills, and stay virtually close to family and friends. Goodwill offers many online career resources. When you’re ready, you can find a job. Need help with your resume or online job search? Check out these resources from Indeed.