5 Totally Legal Ways to Get Free Internet at Home
Learn everything you need to know about how to get free home Internet, who qualifies, the risks, and which carriers offer free home Internet plans.
Having access to the Internet used to be a luxury. Now, whether you need a strong Internet connection for work, school, telehealth, entertainment or socializing, reliable high-speed Internet is a necessity. Despite this universal need and the various connection types available, many low-income households continue to suffer from a digital divide.
The good news is there are many programs, apps, and strategies that can help you and your family get the free or low-cost Internet service you deserve.
Five Legal Ways to Get Free Home Internet
There are several free options on the market for accessing home Internet, for those that qualify. Here are five of the most common ways to get free, legal home Internet.
1. Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a type of government assistance that gives eligible households a minimum $30 per month benefit (sometimes more) to help pay for Internet service. The goal of this program is to help bridge the digital divide, specifically for tribal lands or low-income families, so we’re all on an equal playing field.
A few of the most notable Internet service providers (ISPs) that participate in the program include:
- Fidelity Communications
It’s important to note that not everyone qualifies for the ACP. Eligibility requirements include income limits, receiving certain government benefits (i.e., SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, etc.), or being a part of the Lifeline program.
2. Free Public WiFi
There are countless free public WiFi hotspots across the country. They’re available in local libraries, coffee shops, bus stations, community centers, and more. However, you should always be cautious about using an unsecured, free WiFi network because it could leave you vulnerable to a cyberattack.
3. Free WiFi For Students
Did you know there are plenty of programs that offer free WiFi for K-12 and college students? For example, qualifying children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program or Head Start may be eligible for free or discounted Internet. Many ISPs and school districts also partner to offer assistance programs for students who live in low-income households.
NetZero offers up to 10 free hours of dial-up Internet access each month. One caveat is that you are required to have an active landline phone in your house.
Dial-up Internet will be much slower than you’re used to, so this may be a last-resort option. But, in a crunch, NetZero can help.
5. Use Your Phone as a Hotspot
Technically, this isn’t a completely free Internet service as it requires use of a connected cell phone. However, if you don’t have Internet access at home, but you do have a data plan on your mobile phone, you can use it as a hotspot.
Keep in mind that if you don’t have an unlimited data plan on your mobile phone, doing this could significantly increase your monthly phone bill.
Pros and Cons of Free Home Internet
Free Internet access can be a game-changer, especially in areas where access is limited. However, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of these free Internet programs before using them.
- Pros: Free and low-cost Internet services offered by participating providers can help save a lot of money on your Internet bill. Plus, many of the programs extend into rural areas where traditional broadband services are unavailable.
- Cons: Free plans usually have limited speeds, data caps, and strict eligibility requirements. Plus, not all programs are available everywhere.
FAQs About Free Home Internet
Will the Government Pay for My Internet?
Yes, depending on your circumstances, the government may pay up to $30/month for your Internet service. If you live on tribal lands or in a high-cost area, support payments can be as high as $75/month.
Is There an App That Gives You Free WiFi?
There aren’t any free apps that provide free WiFi. However, there are plenty of apps that help you find free WiFi networks all around the globe. A few of the most popular apps are:
- WiFi Map (Apple, Google Play)
- WiFi Finder (Apple, Google Play)
- Xfinity WiFi Hotspots, if you have a plan (Apple, Google Play)
Find an Affordable Internet Provider Near You
Some of these options can provide significant support to those with less access to reliable Internet connectivity.
If you don’t qualify for free or discounted plans, or you need faster speeds, there are still affordable Internet options. SmartMove can help you find the best Internet providers in your area.
Enter the address where you'd like your Internet service.