Guide for frontline workers: Internet and tech discounts in 2022

Joe Supan

May 29, 2021 — 5 min read

As a thank you to frontline workers, many companies are offering discounts and deals on internet service, cellphone plans and tech products.

Frontline worker adminstering covid test

The COVID-19 pandemic has put everyone under an enormous strain over the past year, but no group has confronted it more directly than frontline workers. These 30 million U.S. workers have done their jobs in hospitals, grocery stores and food processing facilities to keep our country running.

It’s come at a high price: One study found that almost a quarter of frontline workers have post-traumatic stress disorder. 

“There was a lot of strain on the health care system because of COVID-19, and a lot of that strain ended up trickling down to the health care workers,” said Rachel Hennein, who led the study. “It’s really important to be able to identify how we can help them.”

To show their appreciation for this essential work, many companies have begun offering unique benefits to frontline workers. Most nurses, physicians and first responders can now get significant discounts on internet and cellphone plans in their area. It’s a small step, but it’s one that can have a meaningful impact. 

Discounted internet for frontline workers

We researched every regional and national internet provider to find out what kind of discounts are available through each one. Unfortunately, there is only one home internet provider that offers discounts to frontline workers: Verizon. That said, there are a couple other deals that are worth considering. 

AT&T Wireless

AT&T offers 25% discounts for first responders, nurses and physicians, but they’re for AT&T’s cellphone plans, not home internet. Here’s what you’ll pay for one line, compared with the standard price:

All first responders, nurses, physicians and frontline workers are eligible for the discount. Here’s the full list of professions that are covered:

  • Emergency management agencies
  • Emergency medical service (EMS)
  • Fire department
  • Law enforcement
  • Public safety answering point
  • Doctors: MD, OD
  • Physician Assistants: PA-C
  • Nurses: RN, LVN, LPN, ARPN & ARNP
  • Nurse Practitioners

Unfortunately, federal agencies like the FBI and FEMA are not eligible. Click the following links to start the application process for first responders and healthcare workers.

DISH Network

Healthcare workers and first responders can all take advantage of TV perks from DISH Network. Healthcare workers get the Heartland Pack included at no extra cost, which includes the Hallmark Channel, OWN, UPtv, Game Show Network, Discovery Family and BabyTV. First responders get the Stars & Stripes Pack included for free, which has AHC, Destination America, Reelz, Cowboy Channel, Smithsonian Channel and STARZ ENCORE Westerns. Both groups also have access to one free movie rental each month. 

Learn more about DISH Network’s discounts

Verizon Fios

Discounts on Verizon Fios service are available to nurses and first responders. Here’s what both groups get:

  • $5 off/month on 200 Mbps plan
  • $10 off/month on 400 Mbps plan
  • $15 off/month on Gigabit Connection plan

Active, retired and volunteer members of the following groups are eligible:

  • Firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT) and emergency medical services (EMS)
  • Law enforcement including state troopers, sheriffs, sheriff’s deputies and local police

For the nurses discount, you’ll have to be currently employed. Here’s who qualifies:

  • Nurses (LPN, LVN, NP or RN)
  • Respiratory therapists with a valid National Provider Identifier (NPI) number

Both groups also qualify for discounts on Verizon Wireless service. You can learn more about internet discounts for first responders and nurses on Verizon’s website. 

Additional low-income internet programs

If the providers above aren’t available in your area, there are a number of other discounted internet options available to low-income households. Each of them requires you to be eligible for a government program like the National School Lunch Program, housing assistance, Medicaid, SNAP or SSI. 

  • Xfinity Internet Essentials: Provides 50 Mbps internet plan for just $9.95/mo. 
  • Spectrum Internet Assist: The price varies for this discount, but you’ll get 30 Mbps of download speed if you qualify.
  • Access from AT&T: Provides speeds up to 25 Mbps for $10/mo. or less.
  • Cox Connect2Compete: Families with K-12 children who also qualify for government programs are eligible for this discount. You’ll get 50 Mbps of download speeds for just $9.95/mo. 
  • Emergency Broadband Benefit: This program from the FCC provides a $50/mo. discount on internet for those who qualify and $75/mo. for anyone living on Tribal lands. 
  • Lifeline: This government program provides $9.25/mo. off internet or cellphone bills. 

How to get your discount

Unfortunately, there’s often some fine print involved with these discounts, and you may have to do some extra leg work to make sure you’re getting the full benefit. Here are a few tips that can help the process go a little smoother: 

  • Ask questions: If you have the time, it’s best to call the provider directly to clear up any questions you might have about their discount program. Once you get someone on the phone (or on their web chat), don’t hesitate to clear up any questions you have. Oftentimes, these deals aren’t well advertised online, so you may qualify for additional discounts you didn’t know about.  
  • Come prepared: Before you apply for the discount, make sure you’ve researched the provider’s website thoroughly and talked to a representative if you still had questions. You’ll probably require some documentation to receive the discount, so you’ll need to bring ID or proof of employment if you’re applying in-person. 
  • Watch out for hidden conditions: There’s always fine print involved when it comes to internet plans. Make sure you’re not signing up for any services you don’t need when you apply for your discount. 

Other tech discounts for frontline workers

In addition to these internet discounts, there are a number of deals on tech products available to first responders and healthcare workers. Like the internet deals, you’ll usually have to verify your employment through a platform like 

Mental health and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an inordinate burden on frontline workers. According to one survey, 62% of frontline health care workers said that stress related to COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their health, with many also reporting trouble sleeping, increased alcohol or drug use and frequent headaches or stomaches. 

There are no easy solutions to such prolonged exposure to stress, but there are some actions experts recommend to help cope with it in healthy ways: 

  • Be mindful of things you can control and what’s out of your hands.
  • Limit your exposure to media coverage when you’re feeling stressed.
  • Stay connected with family and friends.
  • Pay attention to your limits. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed or burned out.
  • Make time for activities that boost your self-esteem.
Learn more about coping with stress for frontline workers

Wellness resources for frontline workers 

In addition to the tips above, there are a number of resources out there for people who are feeling the effects of more than a year on the front lines of the pandemic. Here are some more resources for frontline workers:

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, but having as many tools at your disposal as possible can help you deal with issues in a positive way. 

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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