Our guide to low-income internet programs for Los Angeles residents includes Spectrum, AT&T, Frontier, Xfinity and Cox Communications.
Not every household will have access to all 5 programs but almost every home should be able to access 1 or 2 of these highly affordable programs for home internet access.
What Do We Mean By Low Income Internet Programs?
For the purposes of this article, we mean programs that are offered by internet service providers in Los Angeles that are in addition to any programs offered under the state’s Lifeline provisions, which we’ve written about in detail here.
That means you can buy one of these plans and still qualify for a Lifeline package from a different provider. That can be very valuable if you want to get a free cellular phone plan.
However, because these plans are not mandated by state or federal law, they each have very different sets of qualifying requirements and you can’t presume that because you qualify with one provider that you will qualify for another.
One of the big potential benefits of some of these plans is the chance to get a free computer or a computer for a very low price. This can be an enormous benefit in a household where a computer would normally just be too expensive to consider.
Spectrum Low Income Internet Program For Los Angles Residents
Spectrum is our top choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Los Angeles and California as a whole.
Spectrum does not provide low income Internet services under the Federal or California Lifeline provisions. However, it does offer Spectrum Internet Assist.
Who Qualifies For Spectrum Internet Assist?
There are two qualifying groups for this service:
- Any family that has a student that uses the National School Lunch Program
- Any family that has a senior over the age of 65 that gets Supplemental Security Income
However, if you have any outstanding debts to Spectrum, Charter Spectrum or Time Warner Communications – they will not allow you to take Spectrum Internet Assist until these debts are cleared.
If you have previously had services from Charter, Spectrum, Time Warner or Bright House – you are in their coverage area. If you haven’t you may need to check on their website to see if your home is covered by the service – Spectrum is widely available throughout Los Angeles.
What Do You Get From Spectrum Internet Assist?
- High speed broadband of 30 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload – this is better than the bare minimum broadband of 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps respectively – for $17.99 a month
- The ability to add Wi-Fi for another $5 a month (Spectrum only provide a modem as standard and the router adds this monthly fee)
- Discounts on their bundled TV and phone services too
Is This A Good Deal?
We think it is. Spectrum’s service is reliable, and this package is better than the basic services provided under Lifeline agreements (which means you can save your Lifeline use, if you qualify, to obtain cellphone services).
However, we don’t like the Wi-Fi charge. You can buy a cheap router online and use that, instead, this will give you Wi-Fi for $0 a month.
We do like the fact that there are no data caps on this plan, so what they say you will pay for it as all you will pay for it.
You should be cautious about claims that the service cost won’t rise however, they said this before and then broke their word – it went up from $14.99 a month to $17.99.
AT&T Low Income Internet Program For Los Angeles Residents
There’s one thing for sure, AT&T offers one of the lowest cost low income programs for Internet access anywhere.
AT&T also offers services for people who qualify for Lifeline support but the AT&T Access program which we are examining here is different from that.
Who Qualifies For AT&T Access?
The qualification criteria for this is as follows:
- You must live in the AT&T coverage area
- One person in your household must be in receipt of food stamps on the SNAP program
However, as with Spectrum you must not have any outstanding debts incurred in the last 6 months to AT&T on any program and no outstanding debts ever incurred to AT&T on this program to qualify. We actually think that’s pretty reasonable – it’s much fairer than Spectrum’s lifetime exclusions, that’s for sure.
What Do You Get From AT&T Access?
- You are eligible to get a subsidized cheap PC if you don’t already own one and this can be a very cheap way to get your first computer
- For an Internet connection of speeds between 768 Kbps and 3 Mbps you will pay only $5 a month, this is incredibly cheap, but we should point out that it’s quite slow too
- For an Internet connection of speeds between 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps you will pay only $10 a month, this is a pretty good deal and while you can’t do everything at these speeds, you can still do a lot
- You also get free installation and a free Wi-Fi router which is better than Spectrum’s $5 a month deal
Is This A Good Deal?
If you have very little money to spare than AT&T’s deal will definitely get you online and in the most affordable fashion. We wish that the speeds were a little faster though – this is not even the bare minimum standard to be considered broadband.
That means internet browsing, e-mail, etc. will be fine but watching video may require a lot of buffering and some computer gaming online will be impossible.
We don’t like the fact that there’s a data cap though and $10 for each additional 50 GB over that cap seems particularly harsh. If you’re going to use the Internet a lot – it may work out cheaper to pay a bit more upfront and get an uncapped data plan.
Frontier Low Income Internet Program For Los Angeles Residents
Frontier’s Low Income Internet program is possibly the best deal out there at the moment for low income individuals. This should not be confused with Frontier’s Lifeline Internet plan which is also available. This is Frontier Fundamental Internet.
Who Qualifies For Frontier Fundamental Internet?
There are four ways to qualify for this program and they are:
- If anyone in your family is a recipient of the US Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (CalFresh)
- If anyone in your home is a recipient of the Supplement Security Income (SSI) benefit
- If anyone in your home is on the Medi-Cal program
- If anyone in your family is on the Bureau of Indian Affairs Program
This is a broader range than most other ISPs and we think Frontier should be congratulated for this.
What Do You Get From Frontier Fundamental Internet?
- A free HP Chromebook! This is a laptop style computer which runs the Google Chrome operating system. There is a limited supply of these and when they run out – they’re all gone but if you can get one, this makes the Frontier deal a no-brainer
- Affordable Broadband – they’re a bit coy about what exactly the speed of this package is and that’s because it can vary (12 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up is the minimum but it can be 50 Mbps up and 50 Mbps down depending on the nature of the connection provided) but it’s still faster than the AT&T program – at a cost of $19.99 a month
- Completely free installation – there are no extra charges for sorting out this connection
- 24/7 technical support – any kind of support is better than none at all
Is This A Good Deal?
If you can land a free HP Chromebook this is a fantastic deal. Even if you end up with a slower connection than Spectrum it will be faster than the AT&T program and you’ll have a computer.
Better still, there’s no annual contract – you can walk away whenever you like. There’s also no data cap.
However, we think the mandatory $5 Wi-Fi fee (which is part of the $19.99 charge) is ridiculous but you can’t avoid paying it.
You may be required to pay a deposit if you want to use the service.
Xfinity Low Income Internet Program For Los Angeles Residents
Xfinity offers the Internet Essentials Program and if you qualify for it, you should definitely check it out. There’s no Lifeline provision from Xfinity, so, if you’re in their coverage area this is going to be the best deal they offer.
Who Qualifies For The Internet Essentials Program?
The rules for Xfinity are as follows:
- You must be eligible for a public assistance program these include but are not limited to National School Lunch Program, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, SNAP, SSI, Housing Assistance, and you should call them if you don’t see your program on this list to check availability.
- You must live in an Xfinity area (well doh!)
- You must not be a current Xfinity Internet Customer and you must not have subscribed to Comcast’s Internet services in the last 90 days either
- You must have no debt with Comcast/Xfinity that was incurred in the last 12 months – if you have debt which is older than this, you may still apply for the Internet Essentials Program
What Do You Get From The Internet Essentials Program?
Xfinity’s deal is very generous:
- You can get 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload internet – that is broadband internet – for just $9.95 a month plus taxes
- You will pay no installation fees, no Wi-Fi fees (and yes, a Wi-Fi router is included for free) and no other rental fees
- You qualify for free internet training classes both in person and in print
- You get free 40 x 1 hour Wi-Fi sessions on their Xfinity hotspots each month too!
- Best of all you can buy a low cost computer from them for just another $149.99 plus tax
Is This A Good Deal?
It’s not quite a free Chromebook but Xfinity’s overall deal is very good. It’s real broadband – something you don’t get from AT&T and something Frontier won’t guarantee. It’s at a very reasonable monthly fee.
There’s no data cap and there are plenty of nice extras (like that cheap PC) for you to pick up too. You also have more ways of qualifying for this program than for any other program in Los Angeles. Overall, you can’t go wrong with the Internet Essentials Program.
Cox Communications Low Income Internet Program For Los Angeles Residents
Cox offers two different low income internet programs each with a different set of qualifying criteria to join but both of which result in the same outcome – low cost internet.
Cox is not a Lifeline provider, so you can avail yourself of these plans and still claim a cellular phone on the Lifeline plan if you qualify.
Who Qualifies For The Cox Communications Low Income Internet Program?
- Anyone with a family member participating in the SNAP, TANF and National School Lunch Programs
- Anyone living in HUD-assisted housing with school-age children You can’t sign up if:
- You’ve previously been a Cox customer in the last 3 months – if you qualify, you will need to cancel and then wait 90 days before you can sign up
- You have a previous Cox bill that is over 12 months old and unpaid
- You have any Cox cable equipment that you have not previously returned (you can, however, return it and then immediately qualify)
What Do You Get From The Cox Communications Low Income Internet Program?
The low-income internet package which is a fairly unimpressive 5Mbps or 10 Mbps download with no stated upload limit but it’s only $9.95 a month.
- No deposit needed
- No installation or modem rental fees
- No contract to sign – quit when you want without penalty
- A guarantee of that price for 24 months
- The chance to buy a cheap computer for $149.99
- If you take the computer, they supply Norton Security Suite (worth $160) for free too
Is This A Good Deal?
It’s a pretty decent deal for low income internet users. We really wish that the speed of the connection was faster and even at 10 Mbps it’s just not broadband but it’s not bad and you can certainly do a lot of what you want online with it.
We really like the lack of a contract and the lack of hidden fees. A guaranteed rate for 2 years is nice too.
The computer deal is pretty sweet, though we’re not quite as impressed with the Norton deal – it’s a subscription product which can be hard to uninstall when the subscription runs out. You can get equally as good security products for free for the PC – and we’d recommend that you do.
We also think that for some families, the fact you don’t need to pay any kind of deposit for this service will be a lifesaver.
We hope that our guide to 5 low income internet programs for Los Angeles has been helpful and that you’ve now been able to find a program that suits you or your family’s internet needs. All 5 of these ISPs are reputable companies that will provide a solid service that can help you make the most of the opportunity that the internet brings.