Having access to the internet has become an essential part of life for most people. However, paying for an internet service can be expensive, especially for those on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are some free and low-cost internet options available. In this article, we will count down the top 10 free internet providers you can use in 2024.
What is a free internet provider?
A free internet provider offers internet access at no cost to the user. Many free providers are subsidized by advertising or data collection. The tradeoff is that you may need to view ads or agree to share some personal data. However, the internet speeds and data allowances with these services are generally decent enough for basic web browsing and email.
Things to consider with free internet
If you’re considering using a free internet service, keep the following drawbacks in mind:
- Slower speeds – Free plans usually top out at around 25 Mbps. This is fine for light use but can lag with multiple connected devices.
- Data caps – Most free providers limit how much data you can use per month before speeds slow or get cut off. Caps are typically around 10-15 GB.
- Privacy concerns – Free providers collect more user data and serve more targeted ads to subsidize service costs.
However, for those in need, the free internet access these providers offer can be invaluable. As long as you understand the limitations going in, a free internet provider can be a viable option.
FreedomPop tops our list as the best overall free internet provider. This innovative company offers fast internet speeds and generous data limits.
Here are some key details about FreedomPop’s free internet plan:
- Speed – Up to 25 Mbps download and upload speeds
- Data – 1GB of 4G LTE data per month
- Network – Runs on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile networks
- Extras – Free international calling to over 60 countries
FreedomPop makes it easy to sign up for free service. Just create an account, get a compatible device and activate your SIM card. Service can be cancelled anytime without early termination fees. While 1GB isn’t a huge amount of data, it’s enough for basic web use. FreedomPop also offers affordable paid plans with more data as needed. With fast speeds and the flexibility to upgrade if desired, FreedomPop earns the #1 free internet provider spot.
2. Access from AT&T
AT&T offers their subsidized Access program for qualifying households. This can provide home internet speeds of up to 25 Mbps for just $30 per month. Households that meet certain low-income criteria can enroll to get the service for free. That makes Access from AT&T a great option for affordable home internet.
Here are some key Access from AT&T program details:
- Speed – Up to 25 Mbps depending on availability
- Data – Unlimited
- Eligibility – Households participating in SNAP or National School Lunch Program
- Extras – Option for in-home WiFi service for $5 to $10 more per month
The no-contract Access program is available to eligible households in 21 states so far. AT&T continues expanding the program’s reach, so check if Access is available in your area. With unlimited data and no long-term commitments, free Access provides reliable home internet to those who qualify.
TextNow utilizes WiFi and partner cellular networks to provide free phone and internet service. Their ad-supported plans come with ample talk and text as well as free filtered web browsing.
For internet access, TextNow offers the following in their basic free plan:
- Speed – Up to 5 Mbps downloads
- Data – 500 MB per month
- Network – Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
- Extras – Free calling and texts to US and Canada
While the speeds are slower and data limited compared to other options, TextNow offers excellent free service if you already have home WiFi available. Connect to WiFi to browse the web and use the cellular data as a backup when out and about. Convenient features like calling and texting make TextNow a versatile free option. Tablet data SIM cards are also available. With the right expectations, TextNow provides capable free phone and internet basics.
4. Wow Internet
In select cities, regional provider Wow Internet offers a unique free internet service called Internet Basics. This entirely free service gives access to essential online resources.
Internet Basics provides free access to these sites and services:
- Search – Google, Bing, Yahoo
- Education – ck12.org, Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare
- Employment – Monster, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor
- Health – WebMD, Healthline
The free service is currently available in Evansville, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. Additional city expansions are expected. Internet Basics won’t work for streaming media or using multiple tabs. But it provides completely free access to valuable education, job, and health resources. For those in need in Evansville or Columbus, it’s an exceptional offering.
For qualified low-income families, Internet Essentials from Comcast provides high-speed home internet for just $9.95 per month.
Key details include:
- Speed – 50 Mbps download speeds
- Data – Unlimited
- Eligibility – Available for households with kids who get reduced school lunches
50 Mbps speeds provide plenty of capability for schooling, telehealth visits, and numerous connected devices. Qualified families also have the option to purchase a low-cost computer.
Internet Essentials also offers 60 days of free internet in response to the coronavirus pandemic. For parents trying to facilitate remote learning and access vital services, Comcast Internet Essentials delivers valuable connectivity at a nominal cost.
6. NetZero Basic Dial-up
NetZero pioneered free internet access in the dial-up age. Today, they still offer their basic dial-up service at no charge.
Here are the basics about NetZero’s free internet:
- Speed – 56 Kbps typical speeds
- Data – Unlimited
- Network – Traditional telephone networks
- Extras – Additional paid plans available
Yes, 56K dial-up internet is extremely slow by today’s standards. But it can still suffice for handling simple email and web pages.
Rural households without access to DSL or cable internet may find NetZero useful for basic functions. There are also no contracts or setup fees to worry about. As a throwback free option, NetZero dial-up merits consideration if you just need bare bones email and web access.
7. Spectrum Internet Assist
Spectrum Internet Assist offers high-speed broadband for $14.99 per month to eligible low-income households.
Details of Spectrum’s affordable program include:
- Speed – 30 Mbps
- Data – Unlimited
- Eligibility – Households with students who get free national school lunch
- Extras – Option for Security Suite blocking and anti-virus
With ample speed for video calls, streaming, and multiple devices, this discounted Spectrum access is quite valuable for qualifying households. Spectrum Internet Assist is available across most of Spectrum’s service territory. Subsidized cost and solid performance earn the program a spot among top low-cost internet options.
8. Q Link Wireless
Q Link Wireless uses Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon networks to offer their Lifeline free and subsidized phone plans. Along with unlimited talk and text, free data for browsing is included.
Plan specifics include:
- Speed – Up to 3G speeds
- Data – 1.5 GB per month
- Eligibility – Limit one per household
- Extras – Free SIM card and phone available
The 1.5GB data allotment delivers ample bandwidth for email, maps, social media and other light use cases. Video streaming will eat into the allowance very quickly, however. As a well-rounded free option for households in need, Q Link Wireless delivers calling, texting and helpful mobile data access.
EveryoneOn partners with telecom companies to create affordable internet access programs for low-income households. Depending on the partner services in your area, internet plans start as low as $9.95 per month.
Examples of current options include:
- AT&T Access from $5-10 per month
- Spectrum Internet Assist for $14.99 per month
- Comcast Internet Essentials for $9.95 per month
EveryoneOn aggregates these and additional offerings based on zip code availability. Eligibility for the specific services varies, but may factor in SNAP or National School Lunch participation among other criteria. With expertise in telecom affordability programs, Connectall and EveryoneOn make it simpler to determine available discounted internet options in your region. Getting due financial support often comes down to merely asking the question. So do not hesitate to inquire through these advocacy partners about possible assistance programs to lower your internet costs.
In various developing countries, Facebook’s Free Basics program offers free access to certain websites and services:
- Speed – 256 Kbps
- Data – 1 GB per month
- Network – Cellular partners per country
- Extras – Free access to Wikipedia, news sites, health sites, Facebook and more
Local free services and data allotments vary somewhat country to country. But the overall basics remain the same.
Free Basics works best for introducing new internet users to valuable online resources carefully selected by Facebook. The walled garden approach limits wider web access, so advanced users likely still need a standard data plan. But for first-time internet explorers, Facebook’s initiative fosters important digital literacy. As developing countries gain more connectivity options, Free Basics at least provides an initial free starting point to build digital skills.
Accessing free or discounted home internet is possible thanks to generous corporate programs and nonprofit advocacy groups. Speeds, data caps, eligibility requirements and availability vary across the numerous options now available. Understanding both the opportunities and limitations of these services helps set proper expectations. A free internet service can open doors for households struggling with tighter budgets or remote access needs. We hope spotlighting the top free and low-cost internet provider programs available in 2024 has been helpful. Let us know in the comments if you utilize any of these services or have another affordable internet favorite we overlooked!
Q: What is the fastest free internet provider?
A: FreedomPop and Comcast Internet Essentials offer the fastest maximum speeds around 25-50 Mbps among major free and discounted home internet services. Speeds vary by location with these and other free providers.
Q: Do I need to be low income to qualify for free internet programs?
A: Several major free and reduced-cost home internet plans like Comcast Internet Essentials, Spectrum Internet Assist or AT&T Access do have low income requirements tied to SNAP, National School Lunch or similar eligibility standards. However, options like FreedomPop have no income minimums. Mobile and other free providers also typically don’t have financial restrictions.
Q: Can I get free internet if I already have an internet plan?
A: Most internet service providers restrict their low-cost programs like Internet Essentials or Access to one per household. Switching providers usually requires canceling any existing internet plan first. However, free mobile data options can provide secondary internet access regardless of current ISP.
Q: Is there government help available to pay for internet?
A: The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward home internet service for eligible households. Some states also offer additional telecom assistance funds for residents struggling to maintain internet access.
Q: What will slow internet speeds affect?
A: Slow internet speeds below 10 Mbps can create lag, buffering and connection issues with bandwidth-heavy uses like video streaming, video calls or online gaming. However, basic web browsing, email, social media and similar light usage work fine at most free internet provider speeds.
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