Low-Cost Internet Helps Seniors Cross the Digital Divide
These days everything happens on the internet, from reading the news and finding recipes to researching healthcare treatments and applying for benefits. Not everyone’s on, though. The Pew Research Center says fewer than half of US seniors have high-speed internet at home. That’s because it’s costly – about $47 per month, on average. Some internet service providers, government agencies, and nonprofit groups are helping seniors log on with low-cost service. If you or a senior you know can’t afford home internet service, here’s what you need to know.
Local programs for low-income seniors
In parts of Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Palm Beach County, Florida, Comcast offers $10-a-month high-speed internet for low-income seniors, along with the things they need to make the most of it: low-cost computers and free training to help them safely navigate the online world. Learn more at Comcast’s Internet Essentials page for seniors.
Neighborhood-wide internet access discounts
In some neighborhoods where Google Fiber is installing its super-fast network, residents automatically qualify for $15/per month high-speed plans. The rate is available in areas where census data shows few residents with internet at home. Google Fiber projects are underway in Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City, Nashville, and Provo, and more than a dozen other cities are on the list as upcoming or potential locations for Google Fiber. Learn more at the Google Fiber website.
FreedomPop offers free and low-cost wireless internet access to households in selected low-income zip codes within the Sprint wireless network coverage area. Learn more on the national nonprofit EveryoneOn’s eligibility page
Low-cost internet access for SNAP participants
In the 21 states AT&T serves with home wireline internet plans, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants with no outstanding AT&T bills may qualify for the company’s discounted service. It costs between $5 and $10 per month, depending on the speed of service in the area. Learn more and apply at the Access from AT&T page.
Options for “grandfamilies” with school-age children
We’ve blogged about the growing resources for grandparents raising grandchildren or living with them, and one of those resources is affordable internet access. Households where at least one child qualifies for the National School Lunch Program may be eligible for $10/month service from several providers, including Comcast, Cox, and some regional ISPs. You can see a full list with program details on the EveryoneOn eligibility page.
More resources for low-cost internet access at home
The FCC’s Lifeline subsidy program will soon give participants $9.25 per month to spend on wired or wireless internet service. Participants in Medicaid, Section 8 public housing, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, and other federal, state, and tribal assistance programs will be eligible. A start date for the internet subsidy hasn’t been set yet. Learn more and check for updates at the FCC’s Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications page.
Get Senior Living Advice Now
If you would like to to talk with a local expert about your senior care options, based on your needs and your budget, we’re here to help. Give us a call toll-free at (866) 592-8119 – we’re available 5am-9pm Mon-Fri and 5am-5:30pm Sat-Sun (Pacific Time).