The Affordable Connectivity Program is a new long-term, $14 billion program created by Congress. It replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.
The new eligibility requirements and benefits for the program are listed below. You can also find the two-step application process by following the link to the Affordable Connectivity page.
This Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program provides a discount on monthly broadband (high-speed internet) bills for qualifying low-income households. The nation’s 20 leading service providers have also joined in to offer discounts on high-speed, high-quality internet plans available, impacting more than 80% of the country’s population.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), overseen by the FCC, provides funds for broadband service and devices for eligible households.
The offer to help connect households with k-12 and college students or educators.
New customers can receive Spectrum’s flagship internet service delivering speeds up to 200 Mbps by calling 844-310-1198 or visiting the Corporate Charter.
If you can get internet connectivity through your mobile or smartphone, but also need to connect with your laptop, desktop computer, or tablet, you can do this by purchasing a mobile “hotspot” device. These devices provide a Wi-Fi hub in your home that connects to the internet using an available 3G/4G mobile service (via Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, Sprint, etc.).
Multiple devices within the home can use this Wi-Fi connection to access the internet using a shared data plan. These hotspot devices go by various names such as mobile hotspots, Wi-Fi hotspots, Wi-Fi smart-spots, and others, and are currently in high demand so they may be hard to find. Also, since they use a shared data plan, you’ll have to purchase a data plan that will accommodate the amount of data used by all devices on a monthly basis.
A hotspot is a physical location where people can access the internet, typically using Wi-Fi. Some internet service providers offer “hotspots” across the country. The following list of links can help you find these.
- Check your local library and ask if they are loaning out hotspots.
- Check state offices. For example, InnovateOhio has identified free hotspots throughout the state: Ohio Wi-Fi Hotspot Locations
Locate Free Provider Hotspots
- Cox Communications:
- AT&T provides hotspots nationwide. To access from your AT&T smartphone or wearable device:
- Your device should automatically connect to AT&T’s network when you’re at a Wi-Fi hotspot location
- From a tablet or laptop
- Note: Make sure your Wi-Fi is enabled
Select att-wi-fi or att-wi-fi from your list of available wireless networks.
Lifeline is a federal program that lowers the monthly cost of phones or internet. Eligible customers will get up to $9.25 toward their bill. Head to this website to see if you qualify and to find companies near you that participate.
EveryoneOn provides a short form to help you establish eligibility for low-cost internet and devices (laptops and desktops) and locate companies based on your ZIP code. This can be found at https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance recently put together a list of free and low-cost internet plans (all less than $20 a month total cost). You can find that list here: https://www.digitalinclusion.org/free-low-cost-internet-plans/.
- Access from AT&T is offering two months of free service as well as $5 a month and $10 a month plans (plus tax), based on speed, for new customers who order before April 30. It also expands eligibility based on income (household income based on 135 percent or less than the federal poverty guidelines) and participation in the National School Lunch Program/Head Start and is waiving all home internet data overage fees. This pdf provides additional details, including how to enroll, or simply call 1-855-220-5211 (English) or 1-855-220-5225 (Spanish). Additionally, visit att.com/access to enroll.
- Charter Communications (under its Spectrum brand name) is offering internet up to 100 Mpbs for free, including in-home Wi-Fi, to new subscriber households with teachers or students for 60 days. This pdf provides additional details, including how to enroll, or simply call 1-844-488-8395.
- Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink) is offering 30 Mbps broadband service for free for 60 days to households that have K-12 and/or college students who may be displaced by school closures and do not currently have home broadband.
- Comporium is offering 60 days of free broadband service to households with students that don’t currently have broadband and is waiving installation fees.
- BEK Communications is doubling internet speeds for all customers at no additional charge, offering broadband service for free for four months to new customers with telehealth, education, and work-from-home needs (PDF download).
- C Spire is offering free wireless data to K-12 students for educational purposes.
- Hotwire Communications is offering free 100 Mbps broadband for two months to new customers that are students or in low-income households (PDF download).
- Hughes is raising data caps and prioritizing educational services.
- Nelson CabPress Releases | Hughesle is increasing broadband speeds for customers that need it for distance learning, telecommuting, or telemedicine, and offering 50 Mbps broadband service for free through June 30 to new customers in need.
- Sprint is offering unlimited smartphone data and additional mobile hotspot data for 60 days; introducing new low-cost smartphone plans; reducing prices for hotspot devices and doubling the data allotment for those devices; increasing data usage limits for high school students without home internet that are supported by the 1Million Project Foundation; and accelerating the delivery of 100,000 devices originally intended for next school year to those students.
- Windstream is offering two months of free service and waived activation fees for new low-income customers.
Connected Nation (CN) has worked across the country for nearly two decades to find innovative solutions for connecting all Americans. That includes working at the state level.
Right now, we have active statewide programs in Texas, Ohio, and Michigan. Our Texas and Michigan teams have put together lists of what local providers are doing for the community during the pandemic. Please note: Some of these may apply in other states as well.
Michigan: Provider Responses to Covid-19
Connected Nation (CN) recognizes that not everyone is “savvy” when it comes to online communication. That’s why CN is providing some free resources for online training to help senior citizens and others in need of assistance as they navigate a world that's rapidly becoming almost completely digital.
You can find this training on CN’s Drive website. Below are some of the most commonly used training resources from Drive:
- Where to find online storytime resources
- Living room concerts, workout classes, watching baby goats! Here’s an awesome list of stuff you can do with your kids (or alone) while spending time at home.
- 7 free video chat apps to use if you're social distancing
Got slow speeds, or worse — no internet connection at all?
Before you pick up a phone, try these simple tips and tricks from Connected Nation’s IT guru, Ryan Johnson, and the Town of Prosper, Texas’ tech expert and IT whiz, Leigh Johnson. These tips provide quick explanations about how things work, why they sometimes don’t, and how to fix them. They will hopefully get you back onto the information superhighway in a flash. No connection, no problem.
More often than not, the problem can be corrected by “power cycling” your devices. Start by unplugging the power from your broadband modem, waiting about 60 seconds, and then plugging it back in. If this doesn’t work, continue the process with your wired or wireless router and then your desktop or laptop computer.
The modem connects to your Internet Service Provider and converts the signal into one you can use. The router splits or “routes” the internet signal to the devices in your home. Both will be plugged into an electrical outlet and have one or more green lights on them. The router often has an external WiFi antenna.
When operating properly, the device should have green lights signifying that the signal is working. Look closely—the router has notations indicating what each light means. If one is not green, note the issue. There is typically one signifying Wi-Fi, another showing that there’s a connection to your provider (DSL, cable, fiber, or fixed wireless), and another may indicate whether the provider’s network is connected to the internet. If you’ve unplugged it and plugged it back in and either light is not green, you might have an issue.
Call your provider. Now you’re able to tell the customer service rep what the problem is and that will mean getting your internet back much quicker.
Make sure your Wi-Fi is turned on. Most PC-based laptops running Windows have a button or switch on them that toggles this off and on. It’s equivalent to putting your phone in and out of airplane mode. Some laptops may enable and disable Wi-Fi using the Fn key and one of the function keys (F1-F12). On a Mac product, locate the Wi-Fi icon in the main menu at the top of the screen. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. If the icon is just an outline of the Wi-Fi symbol, it is turned off. Click the icon and if the Wi-Fi is off, choose "Turn Wi-Fi on." Then, choose your preferred Wi-Fi network from the list and enter the password.
:Occasionally, it may be necessary to have your computer or mobile device “forget” the Wi-Fi network. This can especially be necessary if any of your Wi-Fi network settings have changed. On a Windows device, click the Wi-Fi icon in the system tray and expand the available networks. Right-click on your network and choose Forget. On a Mac, click the Wi-Fi icon in the main menu, Open Network Preferences, choose Advanced, select your network, and click the minus (-) button to remove it. On mobile devices, go to the Wi-Fi settings and select the network and choose Forget. Once it has been forgotten from your respective device, select it again from the list and connect as if it was a new connection.
Most companies provide the router and set it up for you. But, if you set it up yourself, then go back to the instructions and check that you followed every step to the letter.
If you have a Wi-Fi router that’s more than 5 years old you may need to replace it. It’s a general recommendation that you upgrade Wi-Fi routers every 3 to 4 years. Wireless specifications are constantly evolving.
Wi-Fi adapters are also available for desktop computers. The Wi-Fi button mentioned above is not available with most desktop computers. However, there is the possibility that the Wi-Fi adapter itself (e.g., an external version, like a USB Wi-Fi adapter) has an On/Off button or switch. If there is no button or switch, it’s because it has an internal PCI expansion card or the Wi-Fi adapter is built into the motherboard. Alternatively, you can disable and enable the Wi-Fi adapter through the Windows “Device Manager.”
Prosperity is booming! You’ve probably seen the construction of homes, businesses, and roads everywhere. That can sometimes mean a cut fiber optic line that needs to be repaired. After troubleshooting with these tips at home, call your provider. They can tell you if there’s a regional outage and how long it will be until service is restored.
Outside – look for downed lines.
Inside – check the cable that connects to your router and computer/wired devices
Is it loosely connected, damaged, frayed, or maybe been chewed by a pet?
Make sure you know what connection speed your router can handle. Put the model number into Google, request the specification, or contact your provider.
This is a question your internet service provider can answer. Call them or check your bill. The speed is often listed in your statement.
Every device you add to the system uses up a portion of the speed and can slow it down. It’s similar to trying to take a shower when the washing machine, dishwasher, and sprinkler are running — you might get a trickle of water or no hot water at all.
A device wired directly to your router will experience faster speeds than those connecting wirelessly.
As smart homes become more common, there is more of a demand on your in-home internet service. Devices that may be connected to your Wi-Fi router can include, but are not limited to, cell phones, laptops, iPads, TVs (Roku or similar services for over-the-top streaming internet service), Nest Thermostats (for controlling temperatures and lights), Alexa devices, music streaming speakers like Sonos, smart appliances (which can be internet-enabled), gaming products (PlayStation, Xbox or other gaming consoles), and more.
This one is pretty technical. Most of us get our routers from our internet service providers, so the best advice is to call them and ask. However, if you bought and installed your own router, check the manual or Google the router manufacturer number for how to do this.
If you have 100 Mpbs available and four active devices (browsing on your cell phone, your spouse on a desktop computer, your son gaming, and your daughter watching Netflix), it does not mean each one gets 25 Mpbs. It’s not an equal division.
Is someone downloading 200 songs at once, a new game on Steam, or playing Call of Duty with a host of online friends? When you’re downloading items, watching Hulu or playing video games, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. But, when you’re uploading, it’s more sipping like through a straw.
- 1 Mbps
- Casually browse the internet
- Making a video call – teleconference on Skype of Facetime
- Send Email
- Browse and post on social media
- 3 Mbps
- Streaming Music
- 5 Mbps
- Gaming or Online multiplayer
- Streaming high definition video (e.g. Netflix)
- Distance education courses
- 10 Mbps
- Download files
- For students doing homework and research projects
- (5-25 Mbps)
- 25 Mbps
- 4K and ultra-high definition streaming
- 100 Mbps
- 3 or more family members using multiple devices
- Check for malware or viruses If you see unwanted pop-up advertising (or pornography) on your computer, you’ve probably contracted a virus or are infected with malware. You’d be surprised how much of your internet service will use up and how affected your other devices are when attempting to access the internet.
- While several “free” antivirus programs are available please remember the old adage “you get what you pay for.” In this day of hacking, attacking, and ransoming of computers, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Invest in reputable antivirus software that can be installed on laptops, tablets, and handsets. You’ll be glad you did!
- Check your settings. If you see unwanted pop-up advertising (or pornography) on your computer, you’ve probably contracted a virus or are infected with malware. You’d be surprised how much of your internet service will use up and how affected your other devices are when attempting to access the Internet.
- You can adjust a Roku, Fire TV, Ring doorbell, Nest Thermostat, or gaming headset to have quality without being aggressive about data consumption. You can generally find how to do this online or on the manufacturer’s website.
Older routers, out of the box, defaulted to open-access, meaning anyone could use it. If you have an older router, be sure to add a password to protect your network. If you already have a password-protected network, make sure the password is not easy to figure out.
If you use DSL (conventional internet over older, copper phone lines), and the telephone cable you use to connect to the DSL modem is too long or of poor quality it won’t carry a good digital signal. Three to ten feet is optimal. Engineers refer to having too much cable, which decreases the strength of your signal as “line loss.”
Before you call your provider to complain, check your computer’s network card. Many older computers come with network cards that can only handle up to 100 Mbps. You may need a gigabit-capable network card. If you’re using a wireless device plugged into a USB port, double-check the speed it can handle. If either can’t take the speeds you’ve got, then you won’t get the speeds you are paying for.
Network congestion can sometimes slow speed, but it’s typically limited to types of technology rather than actual congestion. For instance, fixed wireless may be limited by line of sight, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) may be subject to distance, and mobile wireless works better outdoors than indoors.*
Mobile networks are designed for the outdoors. That’s because there’s no way for engineers to determine the refractive index for the style of windows in your home or other building materials (such as brick, stucco, wood, aluminum siding, etc.) that may impact in-home connections.
Wireless specifications are constantly evolving and that evolution in the speed of routers is noted by numbers and letters. 802.11 refers to a family of specifications for Wireless Local Area Networks (LANs) like the Wi-Fi network you have in your home. These have evolved over time and now the notations are moving toward easier-to-understand terminology such as Wi-Fi 6—which is the next generation. Below is a list of what 802.11 numbers currently mean:
- In 1997, the 802.11 standard was introduced and offered speeds of up to 2 Mbps
- In 1999, 802.11a and 802.11b were offered speeds starting at 6 Mbps
- In 2003, 802.11g came along with improved speeds of 54 Mbps
- In 2009, we were amazed to hear that 802.11n would deliver 288 Mbps
- In 2013, the introduction of the 802.11ac standard delivered a blistering 346 Mbps.
- Recently, 802.11 axes hit the market with gigabit-capable delivery speeds
Latency is basically measuring the gap between your request and the response (this can be to the internet or to a mobile network). It’s measured in milliseconds. You may notice latency on your cell phone during drive time (5 to 7 p.m.) or during big events. At home, you might notice this while downloading files during high usage.
Your internet request sometimes has to hop from tower to tower and down a fiber optic before bouncing back. If your latency is at or below 100 milliseconds, it’s great. In comparison, satellite communications can take 700 milliseconds, which is about a 3/4 of a second delay. That’s still high-speed internet.
It’s a computer issue, not an internet issue. You made need to run a virus cleanup program or upgrade your computer.
An online speed test portal can be a good tool. However, the results may vary, and may not be accurate. That may simply be because of on how far the server is from your home and how many devices the request has to travel through. But, it can be a helpful benchmark to gauge whether or not the speed you’re seeing is close to what you subscribe to.