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13 places to get free wifi at home, for students and low-income families

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Want to learn how to get free wifi for free internet access? 

In this post, we’ll share ways to get free wifi that benefits students, low-income families, and anyone having trouble affording or accessing internet services:

  1. Check with your employer
  2. Check with your child’s school district
  3. Check with your city or county
  4. Government discount
  5. EveryoneOn
  6. NetZero
  7. Internet Essentials from Comcast
  8. Cox Connect2Compete
  9. Spectrum Internet Assistant Program
  10. Frontier Lifeline Program
  11. Juno
  12. Your mobile phone
  13. FreedomPop

Not at home? Read about how to free wifi if you search “near me.”

FreedomPop has a free, no-contract wifi plan. You’ll only pay a $10 setup fee for the SIM card kit for unlocked smartphones, then $0 a month for up to 25MB of high-speed data.

1. Check with your employer

Your job might offer free internal wifi for employees or an employee discount on internet services at home. Check with your human resources department to find out what’s available as well as the rules of usage. 

2. Check with your child’s school district

Ask leaders at your child’s school if there is a free or subsidized internet access program. Some school districts might even have a network of free wifi partners.

Nonprofits like EveryoneOn and EducationSuperHighway are working to close the digital divide. For example, EducationSuperHighway’s No Home Left Offline is a privately-funded campaign to help families get free wifi in low-income apartment communities. 

For example, in Clark County, Nevada educators and business leaders collaborated to create Connecting Kids — a successful initiative to connect every child engaging in digital learning in the state to the internet. Programs like this ensure children have the equipment and wifi access they need at home.

3. Check with your city or county

You might have access to a free wifi hotspot near your home. Use the WiFi Map app on your smartphone to locate free wifi spots wherever you go. 

For example, New York City offers free wifi in subway stations, parks, restaurants and tourist areas like Times Square. Through networks like LinkNYC, payphones are being replaced with free public wifi stations that also allow phone calls and phone charging.

Look for “free wifi” stickers when you are out and about.

4. Government discount via the Affordable Connectivity Program (formerly Emergency Broadband Benefit)

The Federal Communications Commission established the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as a replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a federal temporary assistance program that provided free or discounted internet service to qualified applicants through March 1, 2022.

The ACP offers a monthly discount of up to $30 for eligible subscribers (up to $75 for households on Tribal lands) and a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop.

Additionally, you can combine the ACP with federal Lifeline Assistance Program benefits to increase savings. Lifeline is a Federal Communications Commission program that provides government discounts to qualified subscribers for cellphone, broadband internet, and bundled voice-broadband service. Lifeline offers up to a $9.25 monthly service discount for qualifying low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for subscribers on Tribal lands.

How to get free internet from the government

You can apply for Lifeline using the Lifeline National Verifier, an FCC system that verifies eligibility, or request a mailed application at 800-234-9473 or [email protected].

If you qualify, you have 90 days to choose and sign up for a phone or internet company, or you can ask your current provider to apply your Lifeline benefit to your existing service.

With Lifeline approval, you are automatically qualified for the ACP. However, if you are not a Lifeline subscriber, you can still apply for the ACP.

You may be eligible for the ACP if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • You receive Tribal assistance such as Tribal Head Start.
  • You qualify for Lifeline because you receive benefits like SNAP, Medicaid, or SSI.
  • You receive WIC benefits.
  • You are the current recipient of a Pell Grant.
  • You receive benefits from the free and reduced price lunch or breakfast program.
  • You are eligible for an existing broadband service provider’s low-income or COVID-19 program that is approved by the FCC.

Apply for the ACP online or call the National Verifier at 1 (833) 511-0311.  

There is one ACP per household. There is also one Lifeline benefit per household.

If your existing provider does not participate with the ACP, here is a list of major internet providers that do: 

AT&T

AT&T offers discounted home internet service to low-income households in 21 states. You can choose from limited and unlimited data plans as low as $0 to $20 per month with the ACP benefit in the first year. Plans vary, so check with AT&T for availability and pricing. 

CenturyLink operates in 36 states and offers different internet service plans to match your usage needs. If you are a current subscriber and your ACP benefits do not apply to your existing service, a CenturyLink representative will work with you to find a comparable, participating plan. Check availability to see if CenturyLink is in your state.

Cricket Wireless

You can apply your ACP to any eligible Cricket Wireless service. Cricket Wireless offers a 15 GB mobile hotspot, unlimited high-speed data plans and a 100 GB data only plan. With ACP discounts, you could pay between $5 and $10 per month for service. Enter your zip code to find your nearest Cricket Wireless store.

HughesNet

HughesNet offers discounted satellite-based internet service to low-income households via the ACP. They offer a range of eligible plans from HughesNet Gen5 10 GB to 50 GB in all contiguous states and Puerto Rico. Use your address to see what’s available from HughesNet in your area.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile delivers 4G and 5G speeds and has different ACP eligible data plans, both monthly and prepaid. Current customers might have to switch data plans to use ACP. This also applies to former Sprint customers and Metro by T-Mobile subscribers. Contact your local T-Mobile store if you have additional questions.

Verizon

Verizon makes internet connectivity possible in low-income homes across the nation. The ACP works with any Fios Mix & Match internet plan, unlimited mobile data plans, 5G Home Internet plans, and LTE Home internet plans. Browse the ACP service offerings at Verizon.

5. EveryoneOn

EveryoneOn is a nonprofit dedicated to helping families in underserved communities get affordable internet service and computers. The Washington, D.C. based organization has connected over 890,000 people to the internet since 2012 and provided over 5,000 computers. Use your zip code to find low-cost internet and computer offers in your area.

6. NetZero

NetZero offers 10 hours per month of free dial-up home internet service. It also offers accelerated dial-up with Norton AntiVirus protection for $29.95 per month. FYI: NetZero charges $25 per incident for live technical support by telephone. Get started with free internet service with NetZero.

7. Internet Essentials from Comcast

Internet Essentials from Comcast is a discounted service that works with the ACP to provide low-cost monthly service for $9.95 and free internet equipment. If you’re qualified for the ACP, you can get the monthly service for free and enjoy speeds of up to 50/10 Mbps. This service also comes with free access to Xfinity wifi hotspots and offers low-priced computers. Apply for Internet Essentials from Comcast.

Free Comcast Wifi qualifications

To qualify for this discounted Comcast service, you must be qualified for the ACP or:

  • Receive assistance like Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, or the National School Lunch Program
  • Live in a Comcast service area 
  • Not have Comcast internet service in the last 90 days

How to get free Wifi from Comcast if you have low income

If you have low income, you can get free wifi from Comcast if you are qualified for the ACP. Comcast also offers Lift Zone, a network of free, nationwide wifi-connected community centers for students. Search for Lift Zones in your community.

8. Cox Connect2Compete

A flagship program of EveryoneOn, Connect2Compete works with Cox Communications (and Mediacom) to provide low-income families with K-12 students affordable home internet. Plans are $9.95 per month. Apply for Cox Connect2Compete now.

Free Cox Wifi qualifications

To qualify for Cox Connect2Compete, you household must:

  • Have at least one K-12 student
  • Receive government assistance

How to get free Wifi from Cox if you have low income

To get free wifi, you must be qualified for the ACP and choose a plan that is less than the benefit. For example, if your ACP is $30 per month and you sign up for a $29.99 plan, you don't pay for service. Check Cox’s current plan offerings. 

9. Spectrum Internet Assistant Program

Spectrum offers a low-price option called Spectrum Internet Assist. You’ll get contract-free service that includes a modem for high-speed internet at 30 Mbps. You can also add on in-home wifi for $5 per month. This program is only for new internet subscribers. Use your address to see what’s available in your community.

Free Spectrum Wifi qualifications

To be eligible for Spectrum Internet Assist, one or more members of your family must receive assistance from:

  •  National School Lunch Program (NLSP)
  • Community Eligibility Provision of the NLSP
  • SSI (applies to those 65 and older)

How to get free Wifi from Spectrum if you have low income

If you are in a low-income household, you can get free wifi from Spectrum as a recipient of the ACP. As long as the benefit is greater than the service plan, you will not have to pay the monthly fee. Spectrum customers also get free, unlimited access to Spectrum Out-of-Home WiFi. Check the coverage map now. 

10. Frontier Lifeline Program

The Frontier Lifeline Program is offered in 29 states and provides discounts to qualifying Frontier internet services to low-income subscribers. Frontier internet service includes a wifi router. Check Frontier plan availability in your area.

Free Frontier Wifi qualifications

In general, applicants must receive government assistance to be eligible for this service. Yet, each state Frontier serves has different qualification requirements. Choose your state to view eligibility requirements.

How to get free Wifi from Frontier if you have low income

You can apply your Lifeline benefit to standalone internet service. Frontier also participates with ACP, so you are likely to get free wifi service by combining benefits. Contact Frontier to learn which plans are eligible for Lifeline and ACP.

11. Juno

Juno offers contract-free dial-up internet access, with 10 hours of free internet each month. You can get connected by choosing an access number from the site, but make sure it is local to your area or you’ll pay fees if your current landline phone provider charges for long-distance calls. 

Juno offers over 2,200 access numbers nationwide. You will choose an access number when you sign up for service. To verify that there are local access numbers in your area, use the Juno access number search.

Juno also offers paid, accelerated dial-up for $29.95/month and DSL broadband internet service for $26.95/month. All services require a landline.

12. Your mobile phone

Most smartphones can double as a hotspot. A hotspot is a mobile device that provides access to the internet. You can reach out to your wireless provider to ask how to turn on your phone’s hotspot feature if you aren’t sure how to get started — and also ask if it will cost you anything extra to use. 

Most current unlimited 4G or 5G plans include hotspot use. Make sure your phone is fully charged or you have a charger nearby when you use your phone as a hotspot since using it can quickly run down the battery. 

Phone hotspots work anywhere your wireless provider offers coverage. Plus, you can connect multiple devices and get a wifi experience just about anywhere.

13. FreedomPop

FreedomPop provides wireless internet and cellular service. If you need wifi, you can get 25MB of free high-speed data every month with a contract-free plan. The data limit renews every 30 days.

However, you must purchase a SIM kit for $10 to use the free service. The SIM is compatible with unlocked 4G and 5G-capable GSM Android and iOS phones. 

Simply install the SIM and follow the instructions to activate service. Just be aware that this service will not work on a phone with an active cellular plan. This is strictly for unlocked phones without existing service. 

You should also know, although the service is free, you will incur a monthly, government-based Regulatory Recovery Fee and must also pay local taxes. In addition, if you run out of data and continue using the service, FreedomPop will upgrade your service to an $8/month plan.

Not at home? Search for free wifi “near me”

If you are not at home and looking for places other connected you can use a tool like NordVPN. It’s a great resource on public wifi networks because it gives you a secure, encrypted connection to protect your data from hackers. You can get a monthly plan for $11.95 or an annual plan for $143.40. Shop NordVPN plans now.

Find free WiFi hotspots “near me”

The WiFi Map is essential for finding free wifi when you are on the go. You can use it as an app or try the desktop version. You can also use Open WiFi Spots to find public wifi networks.

Libraries

Public libraries are excellent resources. They offer free wifi as well as internet-connected computers. For example, the Palm Springs, California public library provides free wifi inside or in designated areas in the parking lot. Find a library near you with World Cat.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s wifi is powerful enough that two can use it just sitting in the parking lot. But, if you go in, you can get a quick, cheap bite while you work or surf the internet. Find a McDonald’s near you. 

Starbucks

Starbucks is a solid place to get free wifi. The cafes tend to be small, so seating may be limited. Starbucks requires an email signup the first time you use the public wifi, but you can unsubscribe from the email newsletter at any time. Find a Starbucks near you.

How to get free wifi at home FAQs

How do I get free wifi without internet?

You can get free connections in public places like libraries and schools. Wifi is commonly available in bookstores, cafes, and coffee shops, but you’ll probably need to be a customer to use it. 

Some cities offer free wifi spots, which can be handy if you’re traveling. You can use a resource like the WiFi Map app to locate access points.

If you need a reliable, consistent wifi connection at home, look into government programs that offer free wireless internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for qualified applicants.

If you need occasional wifi, consider using your smartphone as a hotspot. Of course, you’ll pay your regular plan rate, but if you have an unlimited plan, hotspot use is usually included without an additional fee.

Can you get wifi without paying monthly?

Yes, you can get wifi without paying monthly. Start by researching free wifi hotspots in your town. If you want it in your home, you’ll need an internet provider or to use your phone as a hotspot.

Major companies like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile offer free or reduced service if you meet income requirements. And providers like FreedomPop only charge a small fee ($10) to get started but require no monthly payment for wireless internet access.

Bottom line: How to get free internet and wifi anywhere (virtually)

Free internet and wifi is possible to get if you know where to look.

If you meet certain income requirements, you may be eligible for free or low-cost internet service in your home. If not, options like NetZero, Juno, and FreedomPop offer free monthly service for wired or wireless internet service.

If you can get there, you’ll find many free public hotspots around your town. Try your local library or head to your local McDonald’s, where the wifi is often strong enough to reach the parking lot. Some grocery stores are even offering free wifi these days.

Another great resource for free wifi is Facebook. On the Facebook mobile app, you can search for free wifi spots offered by businesses with Facebook profiles. 

Businesses can share their wifi password to help you get connected on a laptop, tablet or smartphone when you visit. It’s an easy way to find local spots that encourage free wifi use just for patronizing their business.

Need more resources?

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How do I get free wifi without internet?

You can get free connections in public places like libraries and schools. Wifi is commonly available in bookstores, cafes, and coffee shops, but you’ll probably need to be a customer to use it.

Can you get wifi without paying monthly?

Yes, you can get wifi without paying monthly. Start by researching free wifi hotspots in your town. If you want it in your home, you’ll need an internet provider or to use your phone as a hotspot.

Robyn Evans is an award-winning writer, inspirational author, and occasional songstress (especially in the shower). Born and raised in Baltimore, she focused on helping women make healthy choices for body, mind and soul. She’s a grateful bonus mom to a photographer son and activist daughter and works with young writers through a nonprofit called the Youth Writers Challenge. Robyn writes for corporate clients, is a former feature writer for The Carroll County Times, has written for The Baltimore Sun and is the author of three books.
Robyn's website | Robyn's LinkedIn profile

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