The Internet has become an integral part of our life. We all use the internet daily to inquire about health conditions, groceries, education, and other things. As the list is never-ending, you cannot imagine your life without the internet. Internet is more important for seniors since they cannot travel frequently. With an internet connection, they can do most of their work in the comfort of their homes. They can order medicines, products, groceries, foods, and even book a medical appointment. They can also consider some part-time online jobs to meet their daily ends. But can all seniors afford internet? Do they know how to use the internet?
Even if they cannot afford the internet, they can use it. All the credit goes to the government programs. These programs enabled seniors to access the WIFI without bothering about the cost. You are here means you want free internet and looking for available options. This article will answer all your queries. We will cover all the available free options, including government and non-government programs. Keep reading if you want free government internet for seniors.
Free Government Internet for Seniors
Many find it hard to manage expenses after retirement. When old age makes us vulnerable to many diseases, it impacts our earning ability significantly. But you are not alone since most go through this phase. Many older adults, including lower-income seniors and veterans, struggle to access the internet due to a tight budget. Around twenty-two million American seniors do not have an internet connection at home. Hence, there is no point in feeling bad for not having an internet connection. However, you can consider a few affordable or no-charge internet options available in the current condition.
Participants in Supplemental Security Income, Veteran benefits, Supplemental Nutritional Access Program, and other state and federal assistance programs can qualify for low-cost or free internet through Federal Communications Commission programs. Here are the free government internet programs for seniors you can go through.
Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
ACP enables low-income families to access the internet by subsidizing the internet bill. It will provide $30 per month for the internet bill of your home. However, households in high-cost or tribal areas can get enhanced support up to $75 each month. Recently, the Biden administration developed a partnership with internet providers to enable eligible seniors to get internet for no charge.
If you want to get the benefits of ACP, you will have to check the eligibility criteria. Here are the eligibility criteria you can go through to know whether you qualify for free internet or not.
- Approved for School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program
- Qualified for the Lifeline Program
- The receiver of the Pell Grant
- Eligible for low-income programs
- The receiver of assistance through WIC or SNAP
You can qualify for ACP if at least one of your family members meets the above criteria. On May 9, 2022, President Biden announced that more than twenty internet providers would offer eligible families high-speed internet access at $30 or even less. Since the ACP will cover the same amount, you can access high-speed internet for free.
If you meet the above criteria, you can get free internet services. Also, some offer free smartphones to seniors. You can have one if you qualify. There are many ways to check whether you qualify for free internet or not. You can register through the National Verifier. Also, you can talk to any internet service provider.
Another option is the Lifeline program. It is a federal government initiative that offers free phone services to eligible senior citizens based on government assistance participation and income. It has been around for many years, and you can access this program in most states. The Lifeline offers up to $9.2 internet discounts per month to eligible low-income subscribers. The monthly discount will be $34.25 for those living on Tribal lands.
When ACP is a new program that makes broadband affordable for households, Lifeline has already received the desired recognition for offering affordable internet solutions to seniors and low-income families. You can combine both for the same or different service plans. Seniors can consider applying for both ACP and Lifeline at the same time.
How Do These Programs Benefit Seniors?
Seniors can combine ACP and Lifeline and get a package. They will get free talk, unlimited data, free text, and a free personal phone number. Once you have free internet, you can watch your favorite shows, talk to your family, and contact your doctors. You can inquire about your health and get all the desired information in the comfort of your home.
You can consider nongovernmental programs if you do not qualify for government ones. Many non-governmental and nonprofit organizations can enable you to access low-cost and free internet. Here are such programs for your help.
This organization works dedicatedly to support low-income families to improve digital skills and get digital services at a low cost. It brings computer technology and the internet to marginalized communities and low-income families and creates economic and social opportunities for those who cannot access the internet. Additionally, it has programs to improve the digital skills of seniors and other adults. It will have tools to find low-cost computers, internet, and digital literacy skills.
Human-I-T follows a different objective to make the internet accessible for low-income families. The goal is to reduce e-waste and convert it into reusable technology. Also, it uses reusable technology to enable low-income families to access the internet. People with a tight budget can use these repurposed devices. Also, Human-I-T offers free resources to find low-cost internet.
Additional Ways to Access Free Internet
You can consider both government and non-government organizations to get free internet. If these are not achievable, you can try alternatives. Yes, there will be a few with some limitations and benefits. You can find a suitable one with thorough research. Here are a few organizations that offer free internet.
NetZero can come to the rescue of all those who cannot afford the internet. You can get free dial-up internet access, but you cannot use it to play online games, watch your favorite videos, and voice chat. Since the speed will be slow, you might not have a better experience. But you can get the connection and meet some emergency needs. You can expect a speed between 28.8 Kbps and 56 Kbps, but it is less than 0.3% speed of a slower broadband connection. Moreover, there will be some other downsides. You can get free internet for ten hours a month. Hence, you can only use it for some essential purposes. You can try this when you cannot afford the internet and are not eligible for the programs mentioned above. You will have the connection for emergencies if you consider NetZero.
Mesh Network can be the best if you want a long-term and sustainable option. You can get a free internet connection in mesh networks. Also, this network has received appreciation as the future of free internet.
You can also consider FreedomPop if you want free internet service. It offers the world’s first 100% free plans for mobiles. Moreover, it provides free home broadband and free wireless internet. You can get 1 Mbps speed if you consider its free plan. Hence, it might not be the best for those looking for a daily solution.
You can try any of these options while looking for free internet. However, you can also consider low-cost internet if your budget allows it. You will find many service providers that offer low-cost internet to seniors. Compare the features of different services and choose the one that fits your budget and requirements. If you have a tight budget, you can consider a plan that starts at $10 per month. It will meet most of your internet needs. But you will have to spend more if you want an internet connection for multiple devices and high speed. The cost for lag-free streaming and many devices will be between $50 and $100 per month.
What Is the Best Plan for Seniors?
All the seniors will have some specific requirements. When some use the internet for essential purposes, a few stay busy online for several hours every day. Hence, you will have to decide based on your need. In brief, you will not find any one-size plan that fits all seniors. Here are a few considerations you can go through to find a suitable option for your internet connection.
Get Modest Speed
Many will prefer a fast internet connection to have a better experience. However, the fast connection is not necessarily good, and you will have to pay more for the fast connection. Therefore, it is better to go with a modest connection. Know the speed you want for your connection, and then compare a few services to find an affordable solution. There is no doubt that fast connections will be more supportive, but there is no point in spending more when you do not need it.
Consider a Reliable Customer Service
Many seniors overlook customer service while comparing internet service providers. But professional and friendly customer service can help with a better experience. Whenever there is any inconvenience, you can access the customer service and fix it fast. A reliable internet service provider will have a supportive team for customers. Also, there should be many ways to access the customer team. You can reach them through email, chat, or phone. Compare the customer service of different options before going ahead.
Find a Suitable Connection Type
You will find different internet connections, but most of them might not be worth considering. Some might cause interruptions leading to a poor experience. Know the available options and positives and weaknesses of each. For example, fiber offers the fastest connection. Also, there will be a minimal chance of slowdowns and disconnections. If you choose cable, you cannot get a fast internet like fiber. But it is still fast and worth considering. The DSL is relatively slow and might experience connection issues based on location. Another type is satellite, but it is slow. You can experience connection issues in unfavorable weather conditions.
You will have to choose the internet type based on your location. You might not find all these options in your area. You can consider cable or fiber type to get a reliable connection.
Internet Safety Measures for Seniors
Internet crimes are now more than ever. The latest data from the Federal Trade Commission is alarming. It received around 2.8 million fraud cases in 2021, and the number of identity theft cases is 1.4 million. Hence, you will have to be extremely careful. You can consider the following things to avoid internet scams.
Use Strong Passwords
Your password will play a determining role in protecting your online activities. Use unique letters, numbers, and special characters. With a strong password, you can protect your account from hackers.
Do Not Use the Same Password for Different Accounts
You might want to use the same password for different accounts since it will be easier to remember. However, if you do this, you can make it easy for hackers to access your account. Avoid using the same password twice.
Do Not Click Suspicious Links
You might receive unknown emails and attachments. If you are not sure about the source, avoid opening that email. One-click can allow hackers to access your personal information. Some links contain viruses and pose security risks.
Do Not Share Your Personal Information
You can avoid mentioning your bank details, credit card credentials, and other personal information online. You can share only with those whom you know personally.
Secure Your Social Media Accounts
You will have to check the privacy settings of your social media accounts to make them secure. Share your photos and updates with friends and family only.
Wrapping It Up
Free government internet for seniors is available, and you can check the eligibility criteria to know your status. Additionally, you can consider many other programs if you do not qualify for government ones. Know your requirements and eligibility status and find a suitable one.