The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people from all walks of life, but low-income families got the hardest hit. With many families struggling to deal with homeschooling or online schooling and afford internet, low-income Internet plans are now in demand. Prices vary, and so do the offerings. One Internet provider, Spectrum, has sweetened its offerings to students and instructors alike from the K-12 level by throwing in a free two months of usage for any Internet plan up to 100 Mbps in download speed.
There are three categories of people who benefit from low-cost internet; students, families, and senior citizens. Unfortunately, some people aren’t aware that the service is available to them. For students and families, as long as they have enrollment in the school lunch program, they’ll qualify for Internet service reductions such as Spectrum Internet Assis offers.
Additionally, the government has a program for low-income homes, allowing $9.25 off the family’s Internet plan. The government program called Lifeline will enable you to obtain an extra discount on a plan with some Internet providers, but for others, you have to create a new account. Either way, as long as you’re below the poverty guideline income ratio or close to it, you will qualify for Lifeline and benefit from discounted internet.
It’s often better to apply your Lifeline discount to a regular Internet plan than to utilize the low-income offer they may present. Those offers are not always available in many areas, and sometimes they are ridiculously slow. Here are some Lifeline options when applied to a general Internet plan:
Lifeline plus Verizon
The advantage Verizon has over its counterparts is the fact that customers can apply their Lifeline discount to already reduced packages giving them a total of $20 off whichever plan they choose. Verizon’s Internet packages, in general, are not cheap, though. Still, with the download speed they provide, students working online during the pandemic can communicate with their teachers and other students without disruption. Using Lifeline on the Verizon Internet is even better for parents if they too have to be working remotely. Meanwhile, there’s a caveat as you have to pay monthly charges for equipment use plus taxes and fees and sign up for autopay.
Lifeline plus Spectrum
Spectrum offers dependable high-speed Internet in 41 states to nearly 24 million people. When you combine Lifeline with Spectrum Internet, you get up 200 Mbps of download speed for $40.74 per month. This speed varies for wireless service and reduces the usual monthly starter price of $49.99 guaranteed for 12 months. It doesn’t matter how large your household is; no-one will have to worry about facing humbug while streaming or making video calls. Besides kissing the buffering days goodbye, after you sign up with Spectrum Internet, you get a modem and WiFi router that does not come with an additional $10 per month charges like its competitors.
Lifeline plus CenturyLink
CenturyLink gives customers with Lifeline up to 100Mbps download speeds for $39.75. This offer is for their Price For Life plan, but a lifetime is how long you’ll be waiting as well to upload files with a speed of 30Mbps. It also depends on service availability. Also, CenturyLink does not offer the option of a low-income plan.
Lifeline plus AT&T
AT&T offers a Lifeline deal for $30.74 per month, but how much of a contract is it? In the small prints, it says limited availability, plus you have to taxes and fees and pay $10 monthly for equipment. The plan advertises download speeds of 100 Mbps, but it’s not a guarantee in many areas.
Lifeline plus Mediacom
Mediacom offers the same price as AT&T of $30.74 to its Lifeline customers. That, however, comes with a data cap of 60 Gigabytes (GB). The download speed with this plan is 60Mbps, while the upload speed is a mere 5Mbps. It’s referred to as their best budget plan, but even on a budget, those speeds are for people who barely use the internet.
Other Lifeline Internet Offers
Cox costs only $10.74 per month, but the speeds reflect the price with 1Mbps upload and 5Mbps download.
Xfinity costs $15.24 and gives you the FCC minimum of 25Mbps. Taxes and fees apply to the services. The equipment charges amount to $14 per month. For that price, it would be better to lock in Mediacom’s better offer if available in your area.
RCN is the same cost as Cox, while Frontier costs $20.74 with the Lifeline discount.
Internet Service Providers’ Low-Income Plans
Firstly, it is imperative to point out that not every household qualifies for ISP’s discount plans and that not all of them offer that service.
RCN, Frontier, and CenturyLink do not offer Low-income packages.
Spectrum Internet, in addition to 60 days of free internet, offers the best bandwidth of all the Internet providers. It costs $14.99 per month and gives download and upload speeds of 35 Mbps. If your child benefits from the school lunch program and someone in your household get supplemental Security Income, then you qualify. There is no additional charge for modem, and the Wifi router is only $5/month making this the best overall low-income Internet offer. The only company that offers higher download speeds is Verizon starting at $19.99 per month. Still, there are extra charges, including for equipment, unlike Spectrum Internet Assist, which has no hidden fees.
Comcast Internet Essentials is for $9.95 per month with 25Mbps download speed. The plan is not just for children in K-12 but also for seniors who meet the requirements.
Mediacom Connect-2-Compete is the same price and speed as Comcast but offers the service only to families with students on the lunch program.
Cox Connect2Compete also offers 25Mbps for $9.95, but more people benefit if they participate in
NSLP, SNAP, TANF, or HUD programs.
AT&T Access costs $10 per month, and the download speed is 10 Mbps. To qualify, you must have a SNAP benefit.
All the programs vary in prices and offerings but looking at the full picture in terms of speed, cost, bandwidth, and the diversity of people who benefit from the plans, Spectrum Internet Assist Program had families in mind.