Providers offering free internet access, other measures
Here is what some internet service providers (ISPs) in Kansas are doing to help households with K-12 and/or college students affected by COVID-19 closures. ISPs and cellular data providers are also waiving late fees, removing data caps and taking other measures to assist people practicing social distancing.
- Effective Monday, March 16, Comcast is offering two months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
- Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
- Beginning March 19, Pioneer Communications will offer free internet and WiFi access intended for enabling online learning through May 31, 2020, to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Pioneer Communications internet subscription through May 31.
- Effective Monday, March 16, Cox Communications is offering a free month of its Connect2Compete service to families with K-12 children who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, SNAP, and/or TANF; who receive Tenant-Based Vouchers, Project-Based Vouchers or Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA); and/or who live in Public Housing.
- AT&T, as of Thursday, March 19, is offering its Access program to households participating in the National School Lunch Program and Head Start. New customers receive two months of free service, which regularly cost $10 per month.
- Buhler-based Ideatek Telcom has established a network of drive-up public WiFi hotspots in rural communities where people can practice social distancing by staying in their vehicles and connecting to the internet.
(Providers who wish to be added to this list may email Greg Doering at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Federal Communication Commission has launched the Keep Americans Connected Initiative, a 60-day pledge that includes the following measures: (1) not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; (2) waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and (3) open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Click here to see if your ISP has joined the initiative.
Internet Options for Students on Low Income
Addressing what your household internet use will be and what your student’s needs are will help you pick the best internet service for you. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggests that households with multiple users and frequent online streaming choose plans that support internet speeds of 12-25 Mbps. Assess these assistance programs in terms of their speed, price and how they relate to your needs, provided by Reviews.com.