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Provide comprehensive information on internet service during the COVID-19 outbreak

Provide comprehensive information on internet service during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a new initiative by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide affordable internet access to low-income households. Eligible households can receive a discount of up to $30 per month on internet services and up to $100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop, or tablet. The program aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone has access to reliable, high-speed internet, regardless of their location or financial situation. It replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) and provides more sustainable support for low-income households to access the internet.

Steps for getting free internet during the pandemic

Access to the internet is essential for work, education, and staying connected during the pandemic. Fortunately, there are various ways to get connected for free or at a low cost. One of the most popular ways is through the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC).

Provider

Sign Up

Internet Plan

Who It’s For

Price


Comcast 

Xfinity

Enroll via the internet

Internet Essentials - Up to 50 Mbps connectivity

New customers who qualify for federal assistance programs are eligible to avail themselves of services.

$9.95 per month

Spectrum

Call

1 (877) 958-7103

Spectrum Broadband - Up to 100 Mbps blazing-fast speeds

New customers who qualify for federal assistance programs are eligible to avail themselves of services.

$29.99 per month (free with ACP discount)

Cox

Enroll via the internet

Connect2Compete - Enjoy lightning-fast speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

New customers with a K-12 child residing in their home and meeting the eligibility criteria for any federal assistance program are eligible to receive our services.

$9.95 per month

Suddenlink

Enroll via the internet

Altice Advantage - Experience blazing-fast speeds of up to 50 Mbps.

New customers who qualify for federal assistance programs are eligible to avail themselves of services.

$14.99 per month (free with ACP discount)

Is there a possibility of internet service disconnection due to non-payment during the coronavirus pandemic?

Fortunately, the majority of internet providers are responding to the FCC's request and refraining from disconnecting users during the pandemic. This means that even if you're unable to pay your bill, your internet service is unlikely to be terminated.

Over 700 internet companies have taken the initiative to sign the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, demonstrating their commitment to: 

  • Avoid terminating internet service for residential or small-business customers who are unable to make payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Waive late fees for residential or small-business customers facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Provide open access to their public Wi-Fi hotspots for anyone in need. 

If you're experiencing financial challenges and are concerned about paying your bills, there's no need to panic. Reach out to your provider's customer service line and communicate directly with them. They are likely to offer various options and solutions to assist you during this time.

What is the required internet speed for working from home?

Working from home has become a norm for many professionals, and having a reliable internet connection has become essential. When it comes to internet speed, the minimum requirement depends on the type of work you do. For instance, if your work involves frequent video conferencing, you'll need a faster connection than someone who only checks emails and works on documents. 

In addition to internet speed, other factors such as latency, jitter, and packet loss can affect the quality of your video calls. If you experience issues with these factors, you may need to upgrade your internet plan or invest in a better router.

It's also worth noting that the number of devices connected to your network can impact your internet speed. If multiple people in your home are streaming videos or playing online games while you work, it can slow down your internet connection.

In terms of internet speed performance, some cities in the US have better connectivity than others. According to recent studies, major cities like New York and Los Angeles experienced a drop in internet speed during the early days of the pandemic, but networks overall have held up well despite the surge in traffic and removal of data limits by most major providers.

To ensure you have the best possible internet connection for working from home, it's recommended to test your internet speed regularly and upgrade your plan if necessary. Many internet providers offer higher-speed plans that can accommodate multiple users and devices.

Another factor to consider is the type of work you'll be doing from home. For example, if you work in a field that requires a lot of video conferencing or streaming video, you'll likely need a faster internet connection than if you primarily use text-based communication. Similarly, if you frequently transfer large files, such as video or high-resolution images, you'll want to ensure that your internet connection can handle the upload and download speeds required for those tasks.

It's also important to keep in mind that the internet speed you need may vary depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic on the network. If you're working during peak hours, such as in the afternoon or evening, you may experience slower speeds due to the increased demand on the network.

Can internet speeds be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for internet providers as demand for internet services surges due to the shift to remote work, online learning, and video streaming. This has caused a strain on networks, leading to some internet service providers implementing data caps or slowing down internet speeds during peak hours to manage network congestion. 

However, not all internet service providers are experiencing slowdowns. In fact, some providers are experiencing surges in traffic but are still able to maintain consistent speeds due to their network capacity and infrastructure investments. Internet service providers like Google Fiber and Verizon have reported increased traffic during the pandemic but have not experienced significant slowdowns.

It’s important to note that internet speed can also be affected by other factors, such as the type of device being used, the distance from the router, and interference from other devices. These factors can be addressed through simple solutions like moving closer to the router or minimizing the number of devices connected to the network. 

Does the coronavirus pandemic change my internet data cap policy?

At the onset of the pandemic, several internet service providers temporarily suspended or paused data caps. However, it is essential to verify whether these providers have reintroduced data caps based on their service disclosure.

Historically, the following providers have lifted their data cap restrictions: 

  • CenturyLink
  • AT&T
  • Comcast Xfinity
  • Cox
  • Mediacom
  • Sparklight

To ensure accurate and up-to-date information, it is recommended to check with your specific provider regarding their current data cap policies. These providers have demonstrated flexibility in the past, but it's always prudent to stay informed about any changes they may have implemented.

What are the ways to prepare for online learning at home for children?

With the increased prevalence of online learning due to the pandemic, it's important to ensure that your children have the tools and resources they need to succeed. In addition to having a broadband internet connection, there are several other steps you can take to set your children up for success.

First, make sure that your children have access to a reliable computer or tablet with a functioning webcam and microphone. This will allow them to participate in video conferences and online discussions with their teachers and classmates.

You should also create a designated workspace for your child that is quiet, well-lit, and free from distractions. This will help them stay focused and engaged during their online classes.

In addition, it's important to establish a daily routine for your child that includes dedicated time for online learning as well as breaks for physical activity, relaxation, and socialization. This can help them stay organized and motivated throughout the day.

Finally, be sure to communicate regularly with your child's teachers to stay up-to-date on their progress and any challenges they may be facing. With the right support and resources, your child can thrive in an online learning environment.

How to obtain assistance and support for your children?

There are other resources available to parents who need help and support with their children's online learning. For example, some school districts and community organizations are providing free or low-cost internet access to families in need. The nonprofit organization EveryoneOn has a database of low-cost internet and computer offerings available in different areas.

Another helpful resource for parents is the website Khan Academy, which offers free educational materials and videos covering a range of subjects, from math and science to art and humanities. Khan Academy has also launched a series of remote learning resources and tips for parents and educators, including daily schedules and recommendations for how to structure at-home learning.

Many companies and organizations are also offering free or discounted educational resources and tools during the pandemic. For example, Google for Education is offering free access to its premium features, such as video conferencing and online storage, for schools and educators until the end of the school year.

In addition to academic support, it is important to prioritize your child's mental and emotional well-being during this time. The Child Mind Institute has compiled a list of resources for parents and caregivers, including tips for talking to children about the pandemic and strategies for managing anxiety and stress.

Remember, you are not alone in navigating this challenging time. Reach out to your child's teachers and school administrators for additional support and guidance, and don't hesitate to seek help from community organizations or mental health professionals if needed.

Other internet options for low-income households

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of internet access for low-income families who may struggle to afford the high costs associated with broadband connections. Fortunately, there are several options available to help bridge the digital divide and ensure that all children have access to online learning resources.

One such option is the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP), which was launched in May 2021 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This program provides eligible households with up to $50 per month off the cost of their broadband service, as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet. To be eligible, households must have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in certain assistance programs.

Another option for low-income families is the Lifeline program, which provides a discount on phone and internet services to eligible households. Participants can receive up to $9.25 per month off their phone or internet bill, and they may also be eligible for a one-time discount of up to $100 for a device.

Some internet service providers also offer their own low-income internet programs, such as Comcast's Internet Essentials program, which provides eligible families with internet access for just $9.95 per month. Other providers, such as AT&T and Cox, offer similar programs to help ensure that all families have access to the internet.

It's important to note that internet availability and eligibility for these programs may vary by location. Families should research available options in their area and contact providers directly to determine their eligibility and sign up for services.

In addition to these programs, families can also explore options for free public Wi-Fi hotspots in their communities. Many public libraries, community centers, and businesses offer free Wi-Fi access that can be used for online learning and other activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made internet service more critical than ever, as many people have had to work and attend school from home. The guide recommends several strategies for maintaining a reliable internet connection, such as upgrading your internet plan, resetting your modem or router, and using Wi-Fi extenders. The guide also outlines several programs and resources for low-income households, such as the Emergency Broadband Benefit and Lifeline programs. Additionally, the guide offers advice on choosing the right internet service provider and plan for your needs, and tips for negotiating with providers for better deals. Overall, the guide provides valuable information and resources for anyone who is struggling with their internet service during the pandemic.

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