Why internet access is important
The lockdowns of 2020 saw many areas of life temporarily (and some permanently) move online. Kids took lessons from their dining table. Bedrooms became home offices.
The importance of access to the internet became clearer than ever.
Despite much of life returning from URL to IRL as the pandemic restrictions ended, internet access is still crucial for day-to-day life. From homework to job applications to online banking, many important services are at least partially online.
And a huge chunk of low-income Americans can’t access this.
So today we’re gonna cover how to get free or cheap internet access at home and when you’re out and about. Including how to get free internet access through the government and where to find the cheapest internet providers.
Before we start, here are the facts:
- As of 2021, the difference in access between low-income households (less than $30,000) and high-income households (more than $100,000) had not improved in 2 years
- The same study found that about four-in-ten adults with lower incomes do not have home broadband services (43%) or a desktop or laptop computer (41%)
- Only 1% of high-earners reported problems with access to internet
How to get free internet with free public WiFi
This might seem obvious, but there are actually a couple of types of internet access you can tap into outside of your house, plus more places than you might think to access WiFi from.
WiFi is generally available in public places where businesses are trying to attract customers - such as coffee shops and fast food chains. Most public libraries also offer free WiFi.
You can locate your nearest public WiFi spots using WifiApp, which provides a map of where to find public WiFi in over 200 countries.
Rogue, but if you’re ever in the area - cities like St. Cloud, Florida and Sunnyvale, California are credited with becoming the first US cities to offer citywide free WiFi.
PSA: Remember to stay safe while using public WiFi. On a public network, your device is more vulnerable to hackers. Check the security settings of public WiFi before you use it.
How to get free internet at home
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, and in response to the digital divide in America, President Joe has introduced a couple of schemes that work to help low-income families access free internet at home.
How do I get free government internet?
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a program to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices like a laptop or tablet.
You are eligible if your household’s income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, or if you or someone you live with currently receives a government benefit like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Pell Grant, or Free and Reduced-Price Lunch.
You could get:
- Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
- Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
Connect2Compete offers affordable WiFi for households with at least one K-12 student that participate in a government assistance program.
You could access internet for just $9.95 a month.
How to find the cheapest internet at home
If you find that you don’t qualify for the programs above, there are still ways you can save on the cost of internet.
- This directory shows you the cheapest, and fastest broadband options in the country, by state
- This article lists the top 10 cheapest internet providers for 2023
- Cleo’s Guide to Negotiating Bills can help you reduce the amount you’re already paying with your internet provider. Many broadband services offer a product for lower income families that they don’t advertise until you ask.
Make the money thing less scary with Cleo
If money is tight at the moment, here’s what Cleo can do for you, for free:
💙 Show you exactly where your money is going each month, including exactly how much you spent on Uber
💙 Track your income and outgoings
💙 Create a personalized budget that works for you
💙 Show you exactly how much you have to spend per day
Enjoy this post? Def give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference.
Big love. Cleo 💙