Internet access is a must-have in our society today. But with this necessary utility comes ever-increasing costs. Did you know there are ways to get free internet?
I know it sounds too good to be true…but it’s possible to get free internet in some way, shape, or form, whether you’re at home or around town.
In some cases, government entities provide free internet for people with low incomes, and in other cases, they just give free Wi-Fi to the entire city.
But even if you don’t have a low income and/or don’t live in a big city, you can still get free internet. It might not be enough for all of your internet needs, but hey, free is free!
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How to Get Free Internet Access
Here are the best options to get free internet access, whether you’re looking for free limited internet for a relative, options to help out low-income families, or you’re just wondering how to get free public internet.
This is a blast from the past: remember how we used to have to tie up a phone line with dial-up internet? Well, you can still do that for free with NetZero.
NetZero offers a free dial-up plan where you can get 10 hours of dial-up internet access per month. That’s not a lot, but if you only need internet very sparingly (like at the cabin or something), this could be a great option.
They do offer a HiSpeed accelerated dial-up plan for $29.95/month if you want something faster.
And yes, you’ll need to have an old-school phone line in your home to use NetZero. However, you won’t need a router – instead, you’ll access the internet via software download.
NetZero has thousands of access numbers nationwide, so there’s a good chance you’ll find one local to you so you don’t have to pay long-distance phone charges.
Live telephone technical support is available, but it comes with a fee of $25 per incident.
Juno operates similarly to NetZero in that it offers ten hours a month of free dial-up Internet access to users. (I remember using Juno when we first got a computer in our house!)
As with NetZero, you’ll need to have access to a home phone line to use Juno, and you’ll need to download their software, as well.
Use one of their thousands of access numbers nationwide to get free internet access. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re dialing a local number so you don’t have to pay exorbitant fees on your landline phone bill.
And as with NetZero, live telephone technical support is available for a fee of $25 per incident.
There is no obligation and no contract with Juno. You can switch to Accelerated Dial-Up for $29.95/month if you want or need something faster.
EveryoneOn has been operating since 2012 to help connect people in underserved communities to affordable and even free internet service and computers.
Those with a lower income may qualify for free internet, depending on the programs available in your area. That’s where EveryoneOn comes in – they help you find local programs you can utilize.
To get started, enter your zip code and answer a few questions about your income and any government assistance you may review. EveryoneOn will display a list of offers you qualify for as well as links to sign up.
When I searched, I found internet service for as low as $9.95 per month (with the exception of the Affordable Connectivity Program – more on that in a bit). I also found computers near me for as low as $110.
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4. Affordable Connectivity Program
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was recently launched to give eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills. Depending on the cost of your internet service, this could mean you get free internet.
Currently, 20 internet providers have committed to offering ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet plan for $30 or less per month. With the benefit, that works out to be free!
These aren’t slow plans, either – providers have committed to offering a minimum of 100 Mbps download speed, which is fast enough to video conference, stream movies or TV, and more.
To qualify, you need to meet one (or more) of these qualifications:
- Your income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- You or someone in your household participates in a government assistance program
- You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program
It’s very easy to sign up, and you can do so online or via mail. Check with your existing provider to see how they want you to apply.
Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from a participating provider.
Please note: I couldn’t find an official end date for the ACP, but it may end at some point, depending on government funding and legislative priorities.
5. Project 10Million
T-Mobile has a program called Project 10Million that has pledged to offer free hotspots and internet to 10 million eligible households.
To be eligible, your child must qualify for the National School Lunch Program or another eligible government program.
Once you apply and qualify, you’ll have the service for 5 years, with no annual fees or re-certifications. Each year, you’ll receive 100GB of free internet as well as a free hotspot and free shipping.
If you’re wondering how much 100GB gets you, BroadbandWherever.net states that it’s roughly enough data for any one of the following:
- 5000 hours browsing
- 25,000 music tracks
- 650 hours streaming music
- 320 hours of Skype
- 800 app downloads
- 100 SD movie downloads
- 40,000 emails
At the very least, it should be enough to help your children do their homework, which is the goal, right?!
Please note: During congestion, Project 10Million customers may notice reduced speeds due to data prioritization.
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6. Use Public Wi-Fi
More and more places are offering free Wi-Fi to their guests as well as the general public.
If you’re comfortable using public wireless internet and don’t mind having to leave your home to get online, it’s pretty easy to find a place where you can go to access the internet for free.
(True story: I’m writing this article at a grocery store near me that offers free internet! I purchased a drink and a snack and I’m sitting at a booth enjoying the quiet.)
Here are some ideas for places you can go:
You can use the library’s public computers (if you have a library card) or bring your device to access their wireless network.
College and Universities
Got a community college or larger university near you? Chances are they have a free wireless network for their students as well as a guest option for visitors.
Restaurants and Shops
You’ll find free internet at large and small stores alike. Barnes and Noble, Dunkin’, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Target, and many other establishments provide free internet.
Now, you’ll probably want to buy something so you don’t seem rude, so this isn’t entirely free, but if you’re out and about anyway, you can treat yourself and get free internet while you’re at it.
I know, it’s weird to think about going to a hospital to get free internet. And in our current pandemic, you probably don’t want to just stroll into a hospital willy-nilly.
But when things calm down a bit, consider seeing what your local hospital has available. My hospital has several large (and lovely!) seating areas for guests both inside and out, as well as free and open internet.
7. Municipal Wireless Networks
Some cities now offer free internet to their entire city – or at least a large part of it. These are called municipal wireless networks and are typically set up with hundreds of wireless access points deployed outdoors.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a city that has a municipal wireless network, you’ll get free internet just about everywhere you go!
I found a directory of municipal wireless networks on Wikipedia with a list of locations in the United States as well as across the world.
Keep in mind with these wireless networks (or any public wireless network, really) that speeds may be slower than you’d find at home, just because of the sheer amount of people accessing the network at any given time.
8. Wi-Fi Free Spot
Need some help finding public wi-fi? The directory at Wi-Fi Free Spot is a great place to consult.
This website lists locations in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia that offer free high-speed wireless internet access.
They also compile spots in Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Australia, and more.
Wi-Fi Free Spot does its best to keep the database up to date, and users can suggest locations to be added or removed with a form on the website.
Chances are your home isn’t close enough to access one of these free public wireless hotspots, but this is a good resource if you’re out and about or traveling.
You know how when you visit an establishment and they have that little card at the front desk that lets you know the Wi-Fi password? It’s not always easy to find, and sometimes you forget what the password was.
Instabridge is an app that compiles those Wi-Fi spots and passwords into one place, giving you easy and on-the-go access to free internet that’s available near you.
These spots and passwords are regularly updated by Instabridge users, so everyone is helping each other out.
And if you know you’re going somewhere, you can preview the spots to download ahead of time. That way, when you get there, you can connect without needing existing internet access.
You can also use Instabridge to share your home Wi-Fi with friends and family without giving out your password.
The app is free but is ad-supported. That’s not a deal-breaker for me, but I just wanted to give you a heads up.
10. WiFi Map
Another directory of free wireless internet can be found on WiFi Map, both their website and the mobile app.
WiFi Map boasts 100 million users worldwide, a network of 100 million free hotspots, and over 200 countries included.
You can access the directory on the website, or use their mobile app to find and quickly connect to spots near you. The mobile app gives access to all spots, while the website results are limited.
Users of WiFi Map keep the database updated by adding and removing spots, performing speed tests, and more.
As with Instabridge, you can download a map of spots in advance if you know you’ll be traveling to a particular location.
11. Use Your Phone As a Personal Hotspot
This option isn’t free, but it is making good use of something you probably already pay for – your cell phone plan.
If you’ve never tried using your smartphone as a personal hotspot, it’s very easy to do. You use it as a mobile router to utilize the data on your plan to create wireless internet for devices near you.
The benefit of using your phone instead of accessing public wi-fi while you’re out and about is that you can create a secured network. The downside, of course, is that you’re using your data.
However, if you currently pay for unlimited data, you might as well use it, right?! And if your data speed is fast enough, you may even choose to use it to browse and stream videos on your home devices, as well.
12. Ask Your Neighbors
This option for getting free internet is a little out there…and it may or may not work.
But if you have a pleasant relationship with a neighbor that lives close to you, there’s a chance that you may be able to access their internet for free…if you ask, of course!
Of course, it’s illegal to access someone’s internet service without their permission. But if you live close enough where you could share services, they may be willing to give you their wireless network password.
Consider working out a deal in which you receive free internet in exchange for something you can do for them, like mowing their lawn, shoveling their snow, bringing in their mail, watching their kids…be creative!
If they’re not willing to give you outright free internet, they might be willing to split the bill.
However, keep in mind that when you share a private wireless network with someone, whoever owns the network has access to the different websites and information that others are accessing.
So be sure that you can trust each other, especially if you’re entering banking account information or accessing sensitive materials on the home internet network.
With our ever-connected world, having access to the internet is pretty much a necessity. We need it for work, for school, for accessing information, and often just for fun.
These ways to get free internet may not completely cover your needs, but hopefully, you’ve gotten at least a few ideas of ways you can trim your bill and/or save your mobile data when you’re out and about.