While you may or may not be able to qualify for programs offering free internet services to the poor, you do have some options to check out. In general, low income households with children in school will have the best chances of qualifying for the assistance they need. Let’s take a look at some of the options you have and see if they will work for you and your family. Hopefully there are at least one or two that will work out.
Free Internet from NetZero
Believe or not, you can get free dial up and free wireless internet from NetZero. The dial up option allows users ten hours of access without charge. While dial up isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of for surfers, it is an option you might want to consider and it could be just what you need for a student attending school or even college. This is a good option to consider if you have no money to spend.
There is a wireless option available to customers as well, but there is some red tape and some catches you have to take into account. First up, you have to buy equipment. You can buy a mobile hotspot device for $100 or an antenna that plugs into your computer for $50 and you must purchase one or the other to qualify for the free offer. In addition, you are only allowed 200 megabytes of data and once you use it up, your service is cut off. This equals about an hour long streaming video. It’s not much, but you can check your email or surf the web a little, perhaps doing research for a school project.
Free Internet Access from Juno
Just as you can with NetZero, you can also get free dial up to the tune of ten hours per month from Juno. You cannot complain about a no cost option and this company has one for you to use. Again, dial up isn’t exactly the best option these days, but if you simply cannot afford to upgrade, it’s something a student can use to study for schoolwork, complete a project, or just do some general surfing.
Options from Comcast
Comcast offers internet access for only $10 a month for any family whose children qualify for reduced fee and free lunches at their school. This is a pretty simple way to tell whether or not you qualify for the low income program. Obviously, if you have a child in school and he or she gets free or reduced price school lunch, you will qualify for the program.
The only real catches here are that you must not have been a Comcast customer in the last 90 days, you must not have an outstanding bill that hasn’t been paid to the company, and you must not have any unreturned equipment from previous service with the company.
NetZero and Comcast aren’t the only ones offering $9.99 service these days to students who qualify for free and reduced fee lunches. Time Warner has joined the group and has begun to offer the same programs as the others.
Try Social Services
More and more states are following what started in Kansas and are offering free internet to needy, financially disabled households. This is a really good option and it’s honestly going to be your best bet if you meet the income guidelines and restrictions. You will need to call or stop by the local social services in your area to find out if you qualify for the programs in your area and see what they have to offer. You might end up surprised at some of the really good options you have at your disposal.
Make a Wi-Fi Amplifier
You can buy them or you can actually look up how to make one online, and you’ll likely have the majority of the things you need, like a metal can. Essentially, you peel the can and stick the hole of the can, like the pop opening for your mouth, over the antenna of the router. Now, keep in mind you have to attach this to a router, so you may have to work something out with your neighbors or something for it to work.
Contact Providers in Your Area
You can contact the cable and internet providers in your area to see what options they have available. Many companies are offering ridiculously cheap plans for their customers, in hopes they will upgrade down the road to a better plan, including wireless broadband. By contacting them, you might find they have low income options for their customers, like many of the national companies. A few phone calls are all you’ll need to make to find out if you have this option in your area.
Free Internet for Customers
Many businesses offer free internet service to customers. If you have a laptop, you can likely go to a restaurant, order a cup of coffee, and get all day long internet access. While this is the least viable option for most of us, if you cannot afford internet access and you don’t qualify for the other programs listed, it’s something you can consider.
Go to the Library or School
Many schools allow their students to stay late, after the school day is done, or come in early, to access the internet. This isn’t the perfect option, but it might be the only one you have available. It’s something that will work on rare occasion or when major projects are due for the students in your household.
Like the schools, libraries are a very good place to try. If you don’t have a laptop, you’ll find most of the libraries these days have computers that are free to use and are connected to the internet. It’s a really good option to keep in mind and if your child lives within walking distance, it’s likely to work out pretty well. The only real problem is that the library may only have one or two computers for use and if they are being used, you could be out of luck.