How To Get Free Government Lifeline Internet 2022

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What Types of Internet Service Are Available Now

Nowadays, there are four main types of internet connection technology available throughout the globe. These types differ both in speed and pricing:

  • Dial-Up internet – The oldest and slowest type of internet, which can be a bit unreliable, yet often the most affordable. 
  • DSL internet – Slow, yet generally reliable and very affordable.
  • Cable internet – A type of internet service that offers a balance of speed and value.
  • Fiber internet – Offers the fastest speeds, but the price tends to be high. In addition, availability is limited. 

Which type of internet service is the best for you depends on your needs and budget. You may also have to compromise depending on the type of internet service that is available in your area. 

Different internet service types come at different prices. Nevertheless, there are also some free internet service options available in nearly every city, town, and village across the country. 

Free internet options generally come with slower speeds, less reliable connections, and limited amounts of data. However, many free government internet providers offer reliable services with sufficient speeds and amounts of data. Plus, they will end up saving you tons of money. 

How to Get Free Government Internet

The internet is a relatively young phenomenon, yet most of us already rely on it for most things in life. We need a reliable internet connection for work, to seek out better job opportunities, to access virtual classrooms, for education, to access information, to contact health and emergency services, for entertainment, and to stay in touch with our loved ones. 

Having internet access is vital. And while some people live in areas where there are tons of providers and have enough money to subscribe to any of them, others can’t afford any of the providers available in their area. These people are unable to reap all of the benefits the internet offers. 

Luckily, there are certain government-funded internet providers that offer free internet connection to eligible low-income people and households. 

Currently, there are two ways to get free government internet:

  • One way is to get free government Lifeline internet through a Lifeline provider.
  • The second way is to get free government EBB internet through an EBB provider. 

Free Government Lifeline Internet

Lifeline is a government assistance program established by the FCC and designed to help make communication services more affordable for low-income consumers. Government-supported Lifeline providers offer eligible customers a discount on qualifying monthly telephone service, broadband Internet service, or bundled voice-broadband packages. 

To get free government Lifeline internet, you must:

  • Be Lifeline-eligible (see the Lifeline eligibility criteria in the next section)
  • Find a Lifeline provider who offers free or discounted internet service in your area
  • Apply for the provider’s Lifeline program either online or by contacting them

Free Government EBB Program Internet

EBB or the Emergency Broadband Benefit is a government assistance program by the FCC designed to help households who are struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit provides a discount of up to $50 a month toward broadband service for eligible households (up to $75 a month for eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands). Eligible customers may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a desktop computer, a laptop, or a tablet from an EBB provider, as long as they pay a co-pay of more than $10 and less than $50. 

Unlike the Lifeline benefit, the EBB program is temporary. As it was developed in response to the ongoing pandemic, it will end once the program funds are gone or six months after the pandemic ends (which will be declared by the Department of Health and Human Services) – whichever occurs sooner. 

To get free government EBB internet, you must:

  • Be EBB-eligible (see the EBB eligibility criteria below)
  • Find an EBB provider who offers free or discounted internet service in your area
  • Apply for the provider’s EBB program either online or by contacting them

How to Qualify for Free Government Lifeline Internet

To qualify for free government Lifeline internet, you have to, first and foremost, be Lifeline-eligible. In this section, we will take a closer look at the Lifeline eligibility process and criteria, the documents you may have to provide, and how to apply. 

Lifeline Internet Eligibility Criteria

There are two basic criteria to qualify for Lifeline benefits: based on your income and based on a government assistance program. 

Income-based eligibility

You may qualify for Lifeline benefits if your household’s annual income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. The guideline depends on your household size and your state of residence. 

Government assistance program-based eligibility

You may also be able to apply for free government Lifeline internet if you or any of your household members participate in any of the following Federal or Tribal assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Any of the federal assistance programs listed above
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

You may also be able to get Lifeline if your child or dependent participates in any of these programs. 

What Documents are Required for Free Government Lifeline Lnternet

When applying for a free government Lifeline internet and if the provider is unable to confirm your Lifeline eligibility, identity, or address, you may be asked to show proof. 

  • An official document verifying your identity and/or showing your address. For example, your passport, state ID, Tribal ID, or another government-issued ID, U.S. Driver’s License, U.S. Military ID, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, Tribal Identification Number, or Social Security Number.
  • An official document proving your qualifying assistance program participation. For example, an approval letter, benefit award letter, statement of benefits, benefit verification letter.
  • An official document proving your household income. For example, prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return, current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub, a Social Security statement of benefits, Veterans Administration statement of benefits, Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits, divorce decree, child support award, or a similar official document showing your income, a retirement/pension statement of benefits.

To participate in the Lifeline program, a person must be an adult who is 18 or more years old or an emancipated minor. In case you are an emancipated minor, you will also be required to provide an official document proving it, such as a court document, or a certificate.

Note: Only provide copies of the documents. You can make copies by using a scanner, copy machine, camera, or smartphone. Make sure to never submit original documents.

In case you also need information High-Speed Internet Solutions for Rural Areas

How to Apply for Free Government Lifeline Internet

Applying for free government Lifeline internet is as simple as it can get. All you have to do is to follow the simple steps below:

  • Step 1: Make sure you qualify (see Lifeline eligibility criteria above).
  • Step 2: Find a Lifeline provider that offers free government Lifeline internet in your state of residence. 
  • Step 3: Apply for the provider’s service. Once you find a provider that offers free internet in your area, you can contact them and ask how to apply. However, most Lifeline providers have an online application form, which you have to fill out and submit. When filling out the application form, you will be required to provide some personal information. In addition, you may be asked to submit some documents that verify your identity or prove your eligibility. Once you have filled out the form and attached the necessary documents, you can submit your application. The provider will take some time to review it and afterward, you will be notified of whether or not you have been approved for their Lifeline program. 

How to Qualify for Free Government EBB Program Internet

To qualify for free government Emergency Broadband Benefit or EBB internet, you have to, first and foremost, be EBB-eligible. In this section, we will take a closer look at the EBB eligibility process and criteria, the documents you may have to provide, and how to apply. 

EBB Internet Eligibility Criteria

EBB eligibility criteria are very similar to Lifeline eligibility criteria. There are only a few additions, all of which are highlighted. There are two basic criteria to qualify for EBB benefits: based on your income and based on a government assistance program. 

Income-based eligibility

You may qualify for EBB benefits if your household’s annual income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. The guideline depends on your household size and your state of residence. 

In addition, consumers can also participate in an EBB program in case their household has experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020. Households that experienced a job loss or furlough and reported a 2020 household income at or less than $99,000 for single filers or $198,000 for joint filers are EBB-eligible.

Government assistance program-based eligibility

You may also be able to apply for free government EBB internet if you or any of your household members participate in any of the following Federal or Tribal assistance programs:

  • Lifeline
  • Any Lifeline-qualifying program, such as Medicaid or SNAP
  • Free and reduced price school lunch program or School breakfast program

Consumers can also participate in the temporary EBB program if they have received a Pell Grant in the current award year. 

What Documents are Required for Free Government EBB Internet

When applying for a free government EBB internet and if the provider is unable to confirm your EBB eligibility, identity, or address, you may be asked to show proof. 

  • An official document verifying your identity and/or showing your address. For example, your passport, state ID, Tribal ID, or another government-issued ID, U.S. Driver’s License, U.S. Military ID, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, Tribal Identification Number, or Social Security Number.
  • An official document proving your qualifying assistance program participation. For example, an approval letter, benefit award letter, statement of benefits, benefit verification letter.
  • An official document proving your household income. For example, prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return, current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub, a Social Security statement of benefits, Veterans Administration statement of benefits, Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits, divorce decree, child support award, or a similar official document showing your income, a retirement/pension statement of benefits.
  • An official document proving your substantial loss of income. For example, a layoff/furlough notice, unemployment application, approval letter, or benefit statement, evidence of bankruptcy or business closure, 2020 state, federal, or Tribal tax return, Social Security statement of benefits, Veterans Administration statement of benefits, retirement or pension statement of benefits, Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits, divorce decree, child support award, or a similar official document showing your income.
  • An official document proving that you (or any of your household members) have received approval for benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program.
  • An official documents proving that you (or any of your household members) have received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.

To participate in the EBB program, a person must be an adult who is 18 or more years old or an emancipated minor. In case you are an emancipated minor, you will also be required to provide an official document proving it, such as a court document, or a certificate.

Note: Only provide copies of the documents. You can make copies by using a scanner, copy machine, camera, or smartphone. Make sure to never submit original documents.

How to Apply for Free Government EBB Program Internet

Applying for free government EBB internet is very simple. The process is basically the same as it is when applying for free government Lifeline internet. All you have to do is to follow the easy steps below:

  • Step 1: Make sure you are EBB-eligible (see EBB eligibility criteria above).
  • Step 2: Find an EBB provider that offers free government EBB internet in your state of residence. 
  • Step 3: Apply for the provider’s service. When you find a provider that offers free internet in your area, you can contact them and ask about their application process. However, most EBB providers have an online application form, which you can fill out and submit on their official website. When filling out the application form, you will be asked to provide some personal information. You may be required to submit some documents that verify your identity or prove your eligibility. Once you have filled out the form and attached the necessary documents, you can submit your application. The provider will take some time to review it and afterward, you will be notified of whether or not you have been approved for their Lifeline program. 

11 Best Internet Service Providers Offer Government Lifeline and EBB Internet

Here, you can see a list of the best low-cost or free internet service providers that offer services through their Lifeline or EBB program. 

Access by AT&T

Access by AT&T offers its own low-cost internet service. In addition, they offer an Emergency Broadband Benefit discount. 

The provider offers wireline home internet to low-income households who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in California. 

The provider offers internet service for $10 a month or less based on the maximum speed available in your area. The provided internet speed is above 10Mbps and some customers may be eligible for a speed upgrade to up to 25Mbps. In case you are EBB-eligible and get an additional discount, you may get the internet for free. 

To apply, visit att.com/internet/access and press ‘Get started’. You will be required to provide some information and to prove your eligibility. Once your application form has been submitted and reviewed, you will be notified if your application has been approved. 

Altice Advantage Internet with Optimum and Suddenlink

Altice Advantage Internet is now Optimum Advantage Internet. They offer their own low-cost internet program. In addition, they provide an EBB program, which may convert the affordable internet into a free one. 

You may qualify for Optimum Advantage internet if you belong to one of the following groups: households with students, seniors (65 years or older), or veterans. In addition, you must not have an outstanding balance with Optimum or Suddenlink, you must live in an area where Optimum or Suddenlink Internet service is available, you must not have been an Optimum or Suddenlink Internet subscriber during the last 60 days, and you must provide a valid US address when applying. To add the EBB discount, you must be EBB eligible. 

Altice Advantage wired internet offers speeds up to 50Mbps and their basic internet plan costs $14.99. If you qualify for their EBB benefit, you will also receive a $50 monthly discount, which would mean that your internet would be completely free of charge. 

To apply, go to optimumadvantageinternet.com and press ‘Apply now’. Provide the required information and documentation and wait for the confirmation. 

Comcast Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity is a proud EBB provider that offers free internet service for low income through their EBB program. 

To enroll, you must be EBB eligible (see EBB eligibility criteria above).

As several Comcast Xfinity internet plans are eligible for the EBB discount, which is up to $50 (or $75 on Tribal lands) a month, the internet speed depends on the internet plan you choose. Whether your service will be completely free of charge or if you will have to pay something extra depends on the price of the plan (if it’s more or less than $50). 

To apply, visit xfinity.com/learn/internet-service/ebb. Under the ‘How to apply for this benefit’ section, you will be able to choose Comcast’s Xfinity internet or Internet Essentials and apply for either one. Once you submit your application, expect to hear a status update within 48 hours. 

Cox Connect2Compete

Cox offers affordable internet service. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have also decided to offer a free program for people in need. 

To qualify, you must meet at least one of the following criteria: be a household with K-12 children for the National School Lunch Program, Head Start, SNAP, WIC, LIHEAP, and/or TANF; who receive Tenant-Based Vouchers, Project-Based Vouchers or Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA); and/or who live in Public Housing. 

This plan offers download speeds up to 50Mbps to ensure quality education for eligible students. 

To apply, go to cox.com/residential/internet/connect2compete/covid-19-response.html and press ‘Apply for C2C’. In case you don’t qualify, you can check out their other affordable internet plans at ‘Shop internet plans’. 

Eagle Communications or Vyve Broadband

This provider offers fast, yet affordable internet plans. In addition, they offer an EBB discount for eligible low-income customers. 

To qualify, you must be EBB-eligible. Check out the EBB eligibility criteria above.

The provider offers internet speeds of up to 105, 200, or even 1000Mbps, depending on the plan. However, they are no information available about the internet speeds if you get the EBB discount. 

To apply, go to vyvebroadband.com/ebb and press ‘Click here to apply’. Then, simply follow the on-screen prompts, provide the required information and documentation and submit your application. 

Frontier Communications

This provider offers affordable internet plans. Plus, it offers both Lifeline and EBB discounts for eligible customers.

To qualify for their Lifeline program, you must be Lifeline-eligible (see Lifeline eligibility criteria above), and to qualify for their EBB program, you must be EBB-eligible (see EBB eligibility criteria above). 

The speed and price of the internet depend on the plan and the state. 

To apply for their Lifeline discount, go to frontier.com/resources/discountprograms/lifeline-program, and to apply for their free internet with EBB discount, visit frontier.com/resources/discountprograms/emergency-broadband-benefit. 

Internet First from Wave

This provider offers a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection for low-income families. In addition, they offer the EBB discount, which can make the low-cost internet completely free of charge. 

To qualify for their basic affordable plan, you must be a student or low-income household with students. To receive the EBB discount as well, you must be EBB-eligible. 

Their low-cost plan costs $9.95 a month and is only available for qualifying households. It offers speeds of up to 25Mbps and you get the first 60 days for free. In case you are EBB-eligible, you may also receive an EBB discount of up to $50, which would make your internet free.

To apply for the Internet First from Wave low-cost internet plan and/or their EBB discount, go to residential.wavebroadband.com/internet-first and press the corresponding link to fill out the right application. 

Internet First from RCN

This provider offers a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection for low-income families. In addition, they offer the EBB discount, which can make the low-cost internet completely free of charge. 

To qualify for their basic affordable plan, you must be a student or a member of a low-income household with students. To receive the EBB discount as well, you must be EBB-eligible. 

Their low-cost plan costs $9.95 a month and is only available for qualifying households. It offers speeds of up to 25Mbps and you get the first 60 days for free. In case you are EBB-eligible, you may also receive an EBB discount, which would make your internet free. 

To apply for the Internet First from RCN low-cost internet plan and/or their EBB discount, go to rcn.com/internet-first and press the corresponding link to fill out the right application. 

Mediacom Connect2Compete

This is another great internet service provider that offers both its own low-cost internet for students, as well as an additional Emergency Broadband Benefit discount. 

You can qualify if the provider offers its services in your area, if you have at least one student in grades K-12 living in your home, if at least one child qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunch through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), if you are not a current Mediacom internet customer and have not subscribed to their internet service in the past 90 days and if you don’t have an outstanding Mediacom bill or unreturned equipment. To qualify for the additional EBB discount, you must be EBB-eligible (see requirements above). 

Mediacom offers two low-cost plans for low-income students – one with download speeds of up to 25Mbps for $9.95 a month and one with download speeds of up to 50Mbps for $30.00 a month. An additional EBB discount would cover these monthly fees entirely.

To apply for their low-cost plans, go to mediacomc2c.com. To apply for their EBB program, visit mediacomcable.com/ebb. 

Spectrum Internet Assist

Spectrum offers fast, low-price internet for eligible customers. The provider also offers an EBB discount. 

To qualify for their own low-cost plan, you must participate in one of the following programs: National School Lunch Program, Community Eligibility Provision, or SSI. To get the EBB discount as well, you must be EBB-eligible. 

You can get a 30Mbps fast internet and if you enroll in their EBB program, the plan will be free.

Enroll in their plan at spectrum.com/internet/spectrum-internet-assist and for the EBB program at spectrum.com/cp/emergency-broadband-get-qualified?p1=1-877-958-7103. 

Verizon Internet + Lifeline Program

Verizon offers a Lifeline program and discount, which makes their high-speed internet very affordable. They also have a separate EBB program, which can save eligible customers $50 on their monthly internet service. 

To apply, you must be Lifeline and/or EBB-eligible. 

With this offer, you can save $20 on broadband internet service.

To enroll for their Lifeline program, visit verizon.com/info/low-income-internet and follow the instructions. To apply for their EBB discount, go to verizon.com/home/promo/emergency-broadband-benefit. 

Is There Any Way to Get Free Internet Other Than Government Lifeline Internet?

In addition to the free government Lifeline or EBB programs listed above, you can also get free internet through a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization, such as:

EveryoneOn

This is an organization with a simple mission – to bring internet and computer technology to low-income households. They also offer training programs for digital skills. They offer tools for finding low-cost internet, devices, and services. Learn more at everyoneon.org. 

PCs for People

This organization provides refurbished computers and internet connections for low-income people and non-profit organizations. They also have an EBB program. However, only EBB-eligible people can access it. Find out more at pcsforpeople.org. 

Human-I-T

Their goal is to reduce e-waste and provide computers to people in need. They do both by repairing usable technology and redistributing it. They also provide free resources for finding low-cost internet for low-income households. Get more info at human-i-t.org. 

NetZero

NetZero is a normal ISP, however, they also offer free dial-up internet. Keep in mind, though, that this internet connection is very slow and that your time online is restricted to 10 hours a month. Read more at netzero.net/free. 

FreedomPop

This company offers a free mobile plan, free wireless internet, and free home broadband. Their free plans come with slow speeds, however, by paying for upgrades you can get higher speeds. Sign up at freedompop.com. 

Mesh Networks

Setting up a community mesh network is rather challenging, however, it may be worth the trouble, as it would give you and all your neighbors a much more affordable internet connection. Get started at nycmesh.net/blog/how. 

Free Government Lifeline Internet Related Question and Ans

How Does Lifeline Work?

Find out how Lifeline works and more in the ‘How to Qualify for Free Government Lifeline Internet’ section. 

Does the Government Offer Free Wi-Fi?

The government offers assistance programs for low-income people, which fund some internet providers to give you discounts on your internet service. Learn more in the ‘How to Get Free Government Internet’ section.

Read one of our past articles How to get free WiFi anywhere you go

How Do I Find Free Internet Near Me?

If you are a low-income household, you can get free Wi-Fi by applying to a government or non-profit program listed above. If you don’t qualify, you can try setting up a community mesh network or connecting to a public Wi-Fi nearby, such as from a library, the city, a restaurant, etc. 

Can I Get Free Wi-Fi at Home?

Yes, there are many ways to get free Wi-Fi at home. You can do so by applying to a government or non-profit program, setting up a community mesh network, or connecting to a public Wi-Fi nearby. 

Can Students Get Free Internet?

Yes, there are numerous ways for students to get free internet, including from providers like Altice Advantage Internet with Optimum and Suddenlink, Cox Connect2Compete, Internet First from Wave, Internet First from RCN, and Mediacom Connect2Compete.