By Mary Smith
As schools continually move toward digital homework, employers place their job openings and applications online, and community events are advertised over social media and through email communications, internet access at home is not a luxury anymore-- it is vital in order to remain informed and engaged. Unfortunately, internet access may be unaffordable and eligibility can be confusing to determine. We've gathered information on options available in the greater Chattanooga area to help make your decision a little less stressful!
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are listed in alphabetical order. Tech Goes Home CHA does not endorse any specific ISP and provides these details for informational purposes only. In order to confirm eligibility and apply for service, you must contact the ISP directly.
AT&T Access provides internet service for $10 per month (plus applicable taxes). In order to qualify, someone in the household must receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps.
Internet speeds will depend on your location. AT&T will automatically assign you the highest available speed: either 3, 5, or 10 Mbps (megabits per second). Additionally, you will be assigned a data cap of either 150 or 250 GB (gigabytes). Exceeding your data cap will incur an additional $10 fee for every 50 GB that you of over (regardless of whether you use the entire 50 GB).
There is no additional installation fee or equipment purchase required. However, you may not be eligible for service if you have an outstanding balance with AT&T in the last six months.
Call 855-220-5211 or visit att.com/access to apply.
Comcast Internet Essentials
Comcast Internet essentials offers internet access for $9.95 per month (plus applicable taxes). Households are eligible by either receiving HUD assistance (such as Public Housing or Section 8 Voucher) or by having a child participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP, also known as Free and Reduced Lunch).
Internet speed is somewhat faster at 15 Mbps. Access is unlimited, so you will never reach a data cap or have your speed throttled due to frequent usage.
There is no additional installation fee or equipment purchase required. However, if you have an outstanding balance with Comcast in the last year, you may not be eligible for service. (Balances over a year old may still qualify.) Additionally, the household must not have subscribed to Comcast within the last 90 days.
Call 855-846-8376 or visit internet essentials.com to apply.
EPB NetBridge provides internet service for $26.99 per month (plus applicable taxes) for households with a child participating in the Free and Reduced Lunch program or a child attending a Community Eligibility (CEP) school within Hamilton County.
Internet speed is the same as EPB's regularly-priced Fiber Internet: 100 Mbps, which is substantially faster than any other ISP offers at a reduced rate. Like Comcast Internet Essentials, access is completely unlimited.
There is no additional installation fee or equipment purchase required. Eligibility must renewed every year to ensure a child in the household still meets criteria.
To apply, contact your child's HCDE school. They will be able to provide you with the necessary NetBridge permission form. You may also contact EPB at 423-648-1372 for further information.
PCs for People
PCs for People offers internet access for as low as $10 per month on average, but it requires a pre-paid plan and one-time equipment purchase. Plans are available for three months at $40, six months at $75, or twelve months at $120. In order to qualify, the household must be enrolled in a income-based government assistance program such as SNAP, Section 8, TANF, LIHEAP, SSD or SSI. (Alternately, the household must be within 200% of the Poverty Level.)
Internet speeds range from 5 to 12 Mbps. Service is unlimited through the Sprint 4G LTE network. (Unfortunately, if you do not live within the Sprint coverage area, you will not be eligible for this program.)
There is a one-time equipment purchase of $79.95 for the wireless LTE modem. There is no credit check and no additional installation or service fees.
Call 651-354-2552 or visit pcsforpeople.org to apply.
We've also simplified all of this information into a table format, viewable HERE.