Q: Do you know of any resources that can help me find affordable high-speed home internet services? I’m retired and live primarily on my Social Security and would like to find something cheaper than the $40 per month that I currently pay. — Searching Senior
A: There are two great resources you can turn to, to help you locate low-cost or discounted internet services. But’s what’s available to you will depend on where you live and/or your income level. Here’s where to begin.
Your first step to locate cheaper high-speed internet is EveryoneOn, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to making affordable internet services available to all Americans.
Through partnerships with internet providers such as Comcast, Cox, AT&T, T-Mobile, Mediacom and others, EveryoneOn can help you search for services in your area that provide high-speed (4G LTE) internet at a very low cost. Most participating companies charge around $10 per month, with no contract and no equipment fee. However, for nonincome qualifiers, there may be a one-time setup/equipment fee of $62. Data plans will vary too.
To start your search, go to EveryoneOn.org and type in your ZIP code and click on the “Find Offers” button, or you can call 877-947-4321. You’ll then need to answer a few questions regarding your household financial situation so the internet services you’re eligible for can be located.
Some providers offer their services only to people with limited financial resources. However, there are others that offer low-cost deals to everyone regardless of income. What’s available to you will depend on where you live.
Also note that in addition to the low-cost internet services, EveryoneOn also provides referrals to affordable computers and free computer classes. Most of the companies they work with offer refurbished tablets, usually for under $100, and computers for under $160 that are available to everyone. And, they provide referrals to free computer classes, which are typically offered in public libraries across the U.S.
If you don’t have any luck finding a low-cost service through EveryoneOn, and your income is low enough, another option is the Lifeline Assistance Program. This is a federal program that provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy to help pay for broadband internet service, or for a home or wireless phone. Only one benefit is available per household; either phone service (home or wireless) or internet (home or mobile), but not both.
To qualify, you’ll need to show that your annual household income is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines — which is $16,281 for one person, or $21,924 for two. Or, that you’re receiving certain types of government benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, SSI, public housing assistance, veterans pension or survivors pension benefit, or live on federally recognized tribal lands.
To apply, you’ll need to contact an internet provider in your area that participates in the Lifeline program and ask for an application form. To locate providers in your area, visit LifelineSupport.org or call 888-641-8722. Once the provider verifies your eligibility, they will begin service. (NOTE: The internet companies that partner with EveryoneOn do not currently accept the Lifeline subsidy.)
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior.”