How To Get Free Internet Access or Cheap Internet Service
Free internet access is widely available and offered as a benefit by many local businesses and publicly funded institutions. Free, cheap or low income based internet access is available due to government nudges to big internet companies to provide access freely or at low cost to the public. Companies like Comcast and AT&T, dial-up connectivity oldies like Juno, NetZero and FreedomPop, a respectable number of low priced internet access newcomers and passionate non-profits like EveryoneOn are now providing one-stop website portals for super low cost internet access, computers and digital training.
The national non-profit EveryoneOn is worth mentioning specifically, as they are trying to create social and economic opportunities by connecting US residents’ homes to great choices of low cost internet access, eye-poppingly low cost computers, and useful computer literacy training. Their goals are admirable: To bridge the digital divide that separates the (as of 2018), 62 million unconnected people; the 50 million urban and suburban people that cannot afford internet and the rural 12 million that can’t get internet access at their homes even if they wanted to. The biggest obstacle identified to being connected has been the high cost of internet access. EveryoneOn is a valuable portal into the digital world and the improved quality of life this access provides.
Equal Access For All – The Goal of Open and Free Internet
Does it even need to be said that not having internet access in this digital age is a huge disadvantage in every conceivable way? From students doing their online assigned school assignments, job searchers trying to find their next employment, health information access, financial management, shopping, deep immersion hobbies, fantasy and gaming, personal communications and wide-reaching social connections, historic to cutting edge knowledge data base access and instant notification of world events, unlimited entertainment and 1000’s of free services, to name just a few.
The long reach of the digital arm has taken “reach out and touch someone” to a whole new level limited only by one’s imagination. The world is now divided into those that can touch the universe virtually and those still limited by what their fingers can reach. The digital divide has separated mostly minorities and low income folks from the “connected” populace forcing them to live in the digital stone ages. Even a smart phone is just a stepping stone. Imagine having to do school work, write resumes or deal with job applications not optimized for mobile devices, on tiny screens, hampered with limited connectivity. Not to mention the enjoyment of access to virtually anything one can think of. The Mission of Equal Access for All has become a passion for those that see where the future of this digital divide can lead.
You Can Have Free and Affordable Internet Access
Luckily, financially challenged Seniors, actually anyone of any age, in need of reasonably priced internet access does not need to pay full asking price to the communications gatekeepers for a digital key to the world. There are now many providers available offering free, discounted and cheap internet access.
Some of this free or cheap connectivity can be accessed directly from the home, but the world and specifically your whole neighborhood, is literally crawling with free wifi hot spots (internet connection points not using a wired cable connection) open to anyone wishing to step through an internet portal that is open to the public.
Some of these boast pleasingly impressive speeds and quality, often exceeding the internet access offerings available at the home. “Have Laptop Will Travel” has never been more rewarding. There is a reason Starbucks is populated by so many laptop geeks nursing a java and bathing in superior connectivity. Though rarely in some cities and more commonly in others, free wifi hotspots can even be accessed from your home, truly the Holy Grail of free connectivity. Just check the networks that pop up when your computer searches for available wifi networks within range.
Free Internet Access Options
Starting with the zero dollar access plans, the Freebies, check out Juno, NetZero and FreedomPop (the latter via EveryoneOn‘s website offering the Connect2Compete initiative for the best price) with last gen-slow dial up speeds, capped at a tight 10 hours of monthly free use. You will have to install the dial up interface on your computer. A landline is required to install a dial-up connection, and that is usually not free, and unless you have a free phone, you end up having connectivity costs anyway for antiquated and maddeningly slow internet access.
For the price of a MacDonald’s meal those same providers offer high speed connections from $7.99 a month which is much better connectivity with nothing to install, and well worth it. Given the availability of DSL and modem connections at ridiculously cheap prices, why take a trip back in time to the stone ages of dial-up internet access? Income driven DSL high speed internet access offers are even better, starting at $5.00 per month with Access from AT&T. These are basically free, given the retail cost of internet access at around 10 times as much. Check offers at EveryoneOn to see what you can get.
Free Open Wifi Spots Around Most Any Town
Other free internet access can be had at neighborhood wifi hotspots which can be located here: www.wififreespot.com or here: www.openwifispots.com. Look around your neighborhood and see where you would feel OK to settle in to use the wifi for a while. Think coffee shops, libraries, McDonalds (no purchase required!), other food places, hotel lobbies, car repair shops, municipal open wifi, shopping mall wifi, basically any place you go can be checked for wifi, just ask for the access password when you are at the establishment. You can make a note of it for future use. Also, the signal is usually good for a few 100 feet around the point so you may not even need to go into a building.
You can also consider asking your neighbors to use their wifi. Friendly neighbors will be more than willing to share their access occasionally or temporarily, in exchange for chores, a small sharing fee or whatever you think might be mutually beneficial.
8 of the Best Free or Affordable Internet Service Providers
There is cheap high speed internet access for most everyone. Least costly offers go to low income households, but some are for anyone at reduced rates.
1. EveryoneOn due to the one stop shopping aspect: Internet, computers, digital training.
2. But there are even cheaper (niche) options: Access From AT&T. Or, call AT&T “Access Apply” at 1-855-220-5211 (or Spanish at 855.220.5225). Highlights: $5.00 per month for unlimited high speed broadband internet access via a wireline (as opposed to wireless), not dial up but the real deal, for your home, plus a computer. To qualify, you need to live in one of their service states and be a food stamp or SSI recipient. A niche market for sure, but if you get food stamps, here’s your $5.00 per month ticket to the net. Go to the web pages for all the details.
3. Next in line is Comcast’s Internet Essentials at $9.95 per month plus tax, including the Norton Security Suite at no charge, also offering a computer for under $150.00. It delivers unlimited access at 10 Mbps download speed using a wireless router. “To qualify for Internet Essentials and get a low-cost computer and high-speed internet access for just $9.95 per month, a family must have at least one child eligible to receive a reduced or free school lunch through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)”, i.e. does not have to be in public school, just meet the free lunch program criteria.”
4. FreedomPop Home Access data tiers provide high speed home or mobile access from $7.99 for 500 MB, but they charge extra for data overages. Currently, their hotspot ships for free, then there are free trials of a couple of the plans, with only a $9.99 activation fee to get you online for under $10.00. Top right green button of home page goes to the home access deal, scroll down the home page for the mobile info. The Netgear Unite GSM 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot device, similar to a wifi modem, is usually $39.99 but as this article is published, it is free. If you can get the service through the EveryoneOn website you may get an even better deal on their monthly service.
5. Also very cheap — and currently with unlimited access (!) is Netzero DSL starting at $17.95 per month, often with lower 6 month teaser rates up front; check out their plan here: NetzeroHome Access. You will need to buy the hotspot access device. Note that Netzero has unlimited access, while at Freedom Pop your usage is monitored and overages billed for in $10.00 increments. One could roll the dice with FreedomPop and try the $7.99 plan to see if 500 MB usage covers one’s access needs, maybe upgrade to the 1 Gig plan at $13.99 if it doesn’t, which is still cheaper than Netzero’s $17.95 unlimited plan, and less that a $10.00 over limit hit from FreedomPop for extra usage. But having the luxury of unlimited DSL access available at NetZero sure has its advantages: video streaming, Hulu movies, Endless YouTube, Prime music and videos. Never a thought about extra fees….tempting.
6. Karma Internet is different. You pay $199.00 for a hotspot device, for the Drift plan, pay $3.00 per month for service and buy 1 gigabite at a time for $10.00 each as you use them. Recommended for light users only. They encourage you to actually share the wifi hotspots with family, friends, strangers, other users as an open wifi. You get some free bandwidth for every new user. The device cost up front may be not so advantageous given the other options available. Buying gigs a la carte, basically.
7. Worth mentioning: Boingo Travel App provides access to over 1 million hotspots around the world. Cost? $4.98 the 1st month, $9.95 per month thereafter. This is not home internet access but while traveling or out and about around town. 10 times faster than cell data speeds, use on laptops, kindle, any cellphones.
8. Comcast has xfinitywifi, a free wifi network with plentiful hotspots to use around town at no extra charge if you have them as your home internet provider. Just remember your login info and you can get online safely anywhere. They currently have a one year term full price deal from $20 to $25.00 a month for home internet, no limit on what’s happening to the price after that. Heads up happy web surfers, your bill will look a lot different after that year. Comcast lets everyone play and their hotspot network xfinitywifi is complimentary. A year of bliss, is it worth it? You decide.