High-Speed Internet Options for Low-Income Families

Personal Finance
high speed internet

Internet access has become a must have for most families. Besides social media or streaming, things like applying for jobs, doing homework and research for reports, or making money on the side through reputable services makes high-speed internet worth the money. Some families even need internet for work. Here’s a look at internet deals for families on a budget.

Working the System

Comcast and its sister company Xfinity offer decent deals for internet. Plus, many are bundled with cable, which make it an even better deal. Depending on your location, you can start with an internet package for $40 a month for perfectly dependable speed. Another great perk about Xfinity is that in many cities they broadcast wireless, allowing you to log on to their wireless even when you aren’t at home.

The downside of using Xfinity is that the $40 per month fee is only for a year long contract. Once that year is up fees can hike up more than 50%. You may have a fairly hefty startup fee, depending on your credit. The way around the price hike? Cancel your service at the 12 month mark, and have someone else in your household sign up instead.

Many utility companies offer starting packages at around the same price, and other major internet providers sometimes have deals. Companies that provide their own router/modem may have cheaper internet plans. However, you have to pay to rent the equipment, which tends to make the price the same, if not more. Unfortunately for many families, this can still be too much. What happens then?

When $40 A Month is Still Too Much

Several companies provide internet access for families as low as $5-$10 a month. Comcast’s Internet Essentials, CenturyLink’s Internet Basics, and Cox and Bright House Networks’ offer several different low income plans. The biggest downside to most of these programs is that they may not be available where you live. Yet, chances are pretty good at least one will be near you. Three of the biggest national internet providers offer programs that cover most of the U.S.

Access from AT&T

AT&T’s low income plan is one of the least expensive, $5 a month for 3Mbps and $10 a month for 5 to 10 Mbps. They may not charge activation fees, sometimes throw in a free router, and offer $150 computers for qualifying families. Users will be charged overage fees if more than 600Gb are used a month. For the average internet user, that’s almost impossible (most homes use less than 200Gb a month). The only qualification is that a member of your household receives food stamps and that you don’t owe AT&T any money.

Comcast Internet Essentials

Comcast/Xfinity’s Internet Essential’s offers an internet connection for just $9.95/month for 10 Mbps and the $150 computer deal. Qualifications include having at least one child who is eligible for reduced school lunches, not having had Comcast for the last 90 days, and having no Comcast equipment or debt (although you can work out a payment plan).

Cox Low-Income Internet

Cox offers two separate low-income internet plans. Recipients of food stamps, TANF, or reduced lunches qualify for 5 Mbps at $9.95/month (which is fast enough for Netflix). In addition to $150 computer and no extra fees, you can get a two year contract.

The second program is for families with children in HUD assisted housing. The programs are roughly the same, except that program #2 offers 10 Mbps for the same price. In either case, you cannot have had Cox service for at least 90 days, and cannot have unreturned equipment or unpaid bills more than a year old.

Other Low-Income Plans

If you aren’t in a Comcast, Cox, or AT&T service area or don’t qualify for their programs, there are plenty of other companies offering help getting your house wired. CheapInternet recommends the following programs as potential places to get high-speed internet options for low-income families:

  • Spectrum Internet Assist
  • PCs for People
  • Internet Basic (Century Link)
  • Mediacom Low Income Internet (Connect2Compete)
  • Bright House Networks
  • Suddenlink
  • Eagle Communications
  • Midco
  • Connect2Compete
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