7 Low Cost (& FREE) Internet Options for Seniors That Other Companies Don’t Want You to Know About
Internet access has become something of a necessity for many households, and with people of all ages. There is an expectation that everyone has the ability to get online to access services, shop for goods or make appointments. There is also the assumption that everyone has an email address. However, there are some seniors that struggle with this due to high costs and limited resources. Even those that once had high-speed broadband and mobile internet can find themselves struggling with bills once they reach retirement age. A decrease in income means that the best packages are no longer affordable.
The good news for seniors is that there are companies and agencies out there are trying to help. Many major internet service providers have some form of discount or low-cost package in place for senior users. The plus side to these services is that they can reduce monthly fees by a considerable amount – often without too much of a drop in quality. Some also have additional perks. The negative side can be a lack of coverage or short-term offers. There are also some government and charity-led schemes that could also be of help. Below are some of the best internet plans from leading providers and some top schemes for those on assistance.
The Best Internet Plans from Leading Service Providers
The first option is to turn to a leading internet provider for a new plan. This is a great approach for those that already have a high-speed service at home and are loyal customers. Many leading companies will offer a discounted rate for seniors that qualify. Some of these companies may lower the speeds as a result, while others could add other incentives. If you aren’t committed to a particular provider, it may pay off to shop around. Here are some of the better deals on the market.
Comcast seems to keen to help the senior population where they can. They have a scheme in place where seniors can take advantage of a low-cost high-speed service if they qualify as being part of a low-income household. They can reduce their bills to a far more manageable $10 per month.
What makes this system even more appealing is that there is also access to low-cost computers and training on how to use the internet. This is a great idea for seniors that want to get online, but don’t have the means to get started. The downside is that this is currently only available in parts of Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Palm Beach County, Florida,
2. Google Fiber:
Google’s high-speed network doesn’t have to be expensive for everyone. There are some areas with poor internet coverage and usage that can qualify for a much cheaper rate of $15 per month. Like Comcast, this is currently only available in a few cities – Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City, Nashville, and Provo. However, there is a plan to roll this out further over with time.
AT&T offers reduced AT&T internet bills for those that are on SNAP – the supplemental nutrition assistance program. Applicants cannot have any bills outstanding. Costs vary depending on the speed of the service – high-speed is $10 and low speed is $5. Unlike some of the city-based schemes above, this is more widespread and covers 21 states at the time of writing.
Xfinity has an Internet Essentials plan that costs just $9.95 per month. This is for a slower, more basic 15mps connection and in-home wi-fi. However, there are also low-cost computers available – either a desktop or laptop – for as little as $149. These also come with Word And Norton packages to get users started. Families must have a child that qualifies for the National School Lunch Program.
Spectrum offer Internet Assist for seniors on Supplemental Security income. There is a decent speed here of 30 Mbps internet – with no data cap and no need for a contract. This is a more expensive option – at a cost of $14.99 per month – and there is a chance to add Wi-Fi for an additional $5.00 each month.
This is something a little different and less well-known. Suddenlink and Cablevision are now both under the ownership of TV company Altice. This has led to the creation of an Economy Internet service for consumers of either brand. Seniors are eligible for this low-cost alternative and can expect to pay just $14.95 per month. Again, this isn’t the cheapest option around, but it isn’t as expensive as some high-quality services either.
The last option here is a service with a different approach. Not all seniors need a constant, high-speed internet connection t their home. Some will benefit more from a more simplistic wireless service. FreedomPop now provides free or low-cost wireless connections to seniors in selected areas. These hotspots could help with basic connectivity at a much cheaper rate.
Is Free or Subsidized Internet for Seniors Too Good To Be True?
It is a good idea to contact major providers directly to see if they can provide a discount or alternative plan. This could be a time-saving measure for anyone that already has an account and needs to upgrade their plan.
However, there are other options for those that need a little extra help. Government schemes and charity initiatives work to ensure that vulnerable people have access to the internet. Some schemes are more tailored for families and students, but there are ways that seniors can benefit too.
EveryoneOn is a nationwide scheme for grandparents with children taking part in the National School Lunch Program. The idea here is that grandparents looking after grandchildren are often forgotten when it comes to the rights of seniors. Here these households can receive money off their internet bills with select service providers – that is if they have at least one child in the home that is part of this program. Comcast and Cox are some of the more well-known names taking part. The scheme is comparable with other plans with a cost of $10 per month.
Connect2Compete is a similar option that is designed to help students in K-12 education. The aim is that all kids in this bracket will have the resources they need to succeed in school. This low-cost service is available to those on SNAP, National School Lunch, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Public Housing. Again, it may be worth applying if you are a senior with legal guardianship over a child in this age range.
Finally, there is Lifeline. At one point, Lifeline was all about giving applicants the chance to lower their phone bills. Eligible families and seniors could receive $9.25 per month to spend on their phone service if they were a low-income household, on government assistance or had a veterans benefit.
A couple of years ago, the program extended this program and gave applicants a choice over whether to use this on their phone bill or on their broadband service. We have covered Lifeline extensively in this article here as well.
Don’t Always Stick With What You Know
It is important that all seniors pay attention to development within their plan and the terms and conditions of the service. While some companies plan to increase their coverage and improve services, some have made cut. This is what happened with CenturyLink. This plan was highly-recommended only a couple of years ago because they provided vast coverage of low-income households across the states for just $9.95. However, this was scrapped in all but three states. This left many users stuck and unsure about how to afford their service.
Do Your Research and Ask the Right Questions
All of the information offered in this guide is correct at the time of writing. As you can see from the changes to the CenturyLink plan, prices, coverage and/or eligibility can change at any time. Some of these prices and areas covered may not be accurate when you go to set up your new plan. That is why it is important to ask all the right questions before committing.
- Are you definitely eligible for this program?
- What price will you pay and is this the same after the first year?
- What speed can you expect from the internet connection?
- Are there any other perks to the plan, such as low-cost devices or free services?
Solutions ARE Out There, Just Find the Right One for You!
The majority of providers are able to offer a great service that can provide cheaper, reliable internet connections for seniors. These low-cost plans are a great solution for those that struggle to balance their bills once they hit retirement. Plans with additional services and devices can ease the strain for those new to this technology. Low-cost high-speed plans with major players are appealing to the more tech-savvy senior. Then there are all those great government schemes for grandparents and those on assistance. There are lots of different options out there. Take the time to find the one that is the best fit for you.