How to get free and discounted internet

Joe Supan

Feb 24, 2023 — 6 min read

Some ISPs offer low-cost internet programs that can get eligible customers free internet. There are also other government and non-profit programs to aid in your monthly internet cost as well.

woman working on computer

Editor’s note (Feb. 2024): The Affordable Connectivity Program will stop accepting new applications on Feb. 8, 2024. You must be approved and enrolled with an internet service provider by 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb 7 to get the benefit.

Editor’s note (May 2022): The federal government has partnered with 20 ISPs to provide free, high-speed internet plans for households that are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

As the past year has taught us, it’s virtually impossible to get by in today’s world without an internet connection. And while access is still a major issue, high prices are often a bigger barrier to getting people connected.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, half of all people who don’t have a home internet subscription say one reason is that it’s too expensive — double the number who say they don’t have access. The FCC and internet service providers have made great efforts to help people stay online during the pandemic as part of their Keep America Connected pledge, but truly free internet access is still a rarity.

On this page, we’ll walk through all the free internet options that are currently available, along with some resources that can help you get your internet connection heavily discounted — if not entirely free. 

How to get free internet

Through partnerships with programs like the ACP, providers offer eligible customers free internet options. 

The ACP provides a monthly internet stipend for eligible customers (from $30 to $75/mo.). Some ISPs partnered with the ACP offer low-price internet options allowing eligible customers to get it for free. For example, a provider could offer internet for $30/mo. With the ACP $30 monthly stipend, the internet cost is $0. 

Top providers with cheap plans to get your internet cost down to $0/mo.

  • Altafiber
  • AT&T
  • Cox
  • Frontier 
  • Mediacom
  • Optimum
  • Spectrum
  • Verizon
  • Xfinity

Internet providers with low-cost programs

Many ISPs offer low-cost programs to help customers get free internet if they’re eligible for the ACP. We’ve listed some of the top ISPs’ low-cost programs below.

Xfinity Internet Essentials program

Customers can get Xfinity Internet Essentials at no cost if they are eligible for the ACP. You can get up to 100 Mbps as well as free equipment.

AT&T Access program

If you’re eligible for the ACP, you can enroll in AT&T’s Access program to get internet for free. You’ll be eligible for free internet up to 100 Mbps.

Verizon Forward program

Verizon’s Forward program provides free Fios internet or 5G Home Internet for eligible ACP customers.

Government resources for discounted internet

If you really want a quality internet connection for free, your best bet is to utilize a government program. These are typically available to low-income households who qualify for other federal programs like SNAP or Medicaid. 

Affordable Connectivity Program

  • What you’ll get: $30/mo. off your monthly internet bill
  • Who’s eligible: Anyone with income at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.

In January 2022, the FCC launched the Affordable Connectivity Program, one of its most ambitious efforts to close the digital divide in history. This program allocates $14 billion in funds directly to internet users, who receive a $30/mo. discount off their monthly internet bill ($75/mo. for households on Tribal lands), plus a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet.

Learn more about the Affordable Connectivity Program


  • What you’ll get: $9.25/mo. off phone or internet bill 
  • Who’s eligible: Anyone with income below 135% of federal poverty guidelines, qualifies for SNAP, Medicaid, SSI or other federal assistance programs

Unlike the ACP, Lifeline is a permanent federal program, but its benefit is also far smaller. Qualifying households can get $9.25/mo. off either their phone or internet bill, and the benefit is increased to $34.25/mo. for households on Tribal lands. It’s not quite free internet, but it can take out a significant chunk of your monthly bills.

Nonprofit resources for discounted internet


EveryoneOn is a nonprofit that helps connect low-income households to affordable internet options and digital learning opportunities in their area. While the organization doesn’t technically offer free internet itself, it’s a great place to start your search to see what’s available near you. 

PCs for People

The core mission of PCs for People is to share the benefits of an internet connection with everyone who needs it. The group distributes refurbished computers to low-income individuals and nonprofits, and also provides low-cost internet access nationwide using unlimited 4G LTE wireless data. 


Like PCs for People, Human-IT specializes in refurbishing and donating computer equipment to people who need it, but the organization also helps connect people with low-cost internet options in their area. You can fill out a form on their website or text them for assistance with finding available resources. 

Completely free (but slow) home internet options

If free internet sounds too good to be true, it mostly is. To get the type of internet connection most people are accustomed to in 2023, you’ll almost always have to pay some kind of monthly bill. That said, a couple providers do offer completely free, no-strings-attached internet plans, although speeds are unsurprisingly limited.  Keep in mind you’ll need to be enrolled in the ACP to get completely free internet.

FreeNet from BuckeyeBroadband

  • Cost: Free
  • What you’ll get: 2 Mbps internet with ads
  • Who’s eligible: Anyone in northern Ohio

In March 2021, Buckeye Broadband unveiled a first-of-its kind product: free, ad-supported internet. Just as streaming services like Peacock offer free tiers in exchange for some commercials, the internet service provider is giving customers free broadband access if they’ll watch a brief advertisement before every session.

The service, called FreeNet, is available to anyone in Buckeye Broadband’s service area — primarily northern Ohio — and gets you 2 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds. There’s a $19.95 activation fee, and if you want to use Wi-Fi with the service, you’ll have to provide your own router. 


  • Cost: Free
  • What you’ll get: 10 hours of dial-up internet per month
  • Who’s eligible: Anyone

If you’ve ever felt nostalgic for the sound of dial-up internet, NetZero has the free internet plan for you. The company offers 10 hours of free dial-up access each month with download speeds of 28.8 Kbps to 56 Kbps. To put that in perspective, it’s around 0.2% of the FCC definition of minimum broadband speed — enough to (slowly) check an email or load a web page, but not much else. You’ll also need a working phone jack and modem to take advantage of NetZero’s free internet offer. 


  • Cost: Free
  • What you’ll get: 25MB of 4G LTE data each month
  • Who’s eligible: Anyone with a compatible smartphone

FreedomPop is a cellphone carrier that offers a free tier of service. While the plan is actually free, there are a number of ways you can get pulled into paying for it, so you’ll have to be extra mindful of how much data you’re using each month. 

The “Freemium” plan includes 10 minutes of calls, 10 texts and 25MB of data each month. (Calls and texts are both unlimited when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.) You’ll need to use a FreedomPop SIM card on a compatible phone, which costs $10 when you sign up. If you go over 25MB in a 30-day cycle, FreedomPop automatically adds 500MB to your account for $8. For context, you’d use up 25MB watching five minutes of Netflix in the lowest resolution, so you should only plan on using FreedomPop to load the occasional email or webpage. 


Do any providers offer free internet?

Yes, some providers like Xfinity, Spectrum and AT&T offer low-priced internet plans that allow eligible ACP customers to get internet for free with their monthly stipend. There are also a few providers like Buckeye Broadband that offer free, but slow, ad-based internet plans. 

Yes, there are government programs that offer eligible customers monthly discounts on their internet bill. The ACP offers $30/mo. for eligible customers and $75/mo. for those on qualifying tribal lands. If a provider offers a low-priced plan for $30 or less, you can get your internet for free.  

Government programs like the ACP and Lifeline can help seniors get free internet, and some ISPs provide senior discounted plans. 

Students can get free internet with public Wi-Fi hotspots or apply for the ACP. Students can also take advantage of ISPs’ low-income internet initiatives. 

You can get low-cost internet by exploring government programs and ISPs’ cheap internet plans. Look into the ACP, Lifeline and check our cheap internet page. 

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Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Principal Writer, Broadband Content

Joe is a senior writer for CNET covering home technology and broadband. Prior to joining CNET, Joe led MYMOVE’s moving coverage and reported on broadband policy, the digital divide, and privacy issues for the br… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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