Beyond Literacy can support you with finding low-cost computers, internet access, getting online, PHLConnectED, digital literacy, and more.
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Improving Your Skills
Finding Digital Resources
Comcast Internet Essentials
- Through December 31, Comcast is offering 60 days of free of Comcast Internet Essentials to new customers with limited means, regardless of previous debt to Comcast. See their website for eligibility requirements and more details. The application is available in seven languages.
- A social security number is not required to apply for Internet Essentials. Comcast accepts 28 different kinds of documents, including PHL City IDs. A full list can be found at https://internetessentials.com/get-help.
- If you recently had to disconnect your Comcast internet due to hardship, you may be eligible to sign up for Internet Essentials immediately—without having a 90-day waiting period. Existing Xfinity internet customers can apply for services at www.internetessentials.com.
- Comcast has increased speeds of Internet Essentials from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all customers at no charge. This will remain the base speed of Internet Essentials moving forward.
- Comcast also offers laptops for $150 to Internet Essential customers.
- The simplest, fastest, and easiest way to the apply for the program is from a mobile device at www.InternetEssentials.com. Call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) if you are having trouble signing up with your smartphone. However, the call centers are very busy at this time. If you do call, Comcast recommends using the virtual hold option to avoid losing minutes, and a Comcast representative will call you back.
- Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free—including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser.
- Verizon will now offer new Lifeline eligible individuals, Fios (with Disney+ for a year) for $19.99/month at speeds of 200/200. Limitations apply. For program details, visit their Lifeline webpage. For answers to your questions, see Verizon’s COVID-19 FAQs.
- Verizon customers who have lifeline as of March 20, 2020 will have all billing charges waived for 60 days (two billing cycles) beginning with the 3/22/2020 bills. These will apply to either a home phone or Verizon broadband internet service.
- Contact Verizon today to get your internet hooked up.
- Verizon will waive overage charges and late fees for customers who may be financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis through June 30th.
- Verizon will provide two months waived internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers and waive router charges through June 30th.
- Verizon will add 15GB of high-speed data for wireless consumer and small business customers.
- Consumer and small business Fios and DSL broadband internet plans will have no data caps.
- This nonprofit offers a Wi-Fi hotspot with Sprint 4G LTE wireless service, provided by Mobile Citizen. Speed varies with tower coverage. No data limitations.
- $14.99 per month plus initial purchase cost of modem. Plans are prepaid with no credit check or hidden fees.
- Household with income below the 200% poverty level, or currently enrolled in an income-based government assistance program are eligible.
- They also offer low-cost and refurbished computers. Find more information at www.hitconnect.org.
PCs for People
- This nonprofit offers a Wi-Fi hotspot with Sprint 4G LTE wireless service, provided by Mobile Beacon. Speed varies with tower coverage. No data limitations.
- $15 per month plus initial $80 purchase cost of modem. Plans are prepaid with no credit check or hidden fees.
- Households with income below the 200% poverty level, or currently enrolled in an income-based government assistance program are eligible.
- Schools, nonprofits, and libraries can buy bulk internet to provide to their students or members.
AT&T and Cricket
- AT&T will not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill.
- AT&T will waive wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text. AT& T will also waive any late payment fees that any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer may incur because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to submit a waiver request.
- AT&T will keep its public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any American who needs them.
- AT&T is automatically increasing mobile hotspot data by 15GB a month through May 13th for those with an unlimited plan.
- For pre-paid customers, AT&T is offering a $15 limited-time offer for 2GB of data with unlimited talk and text to new and existing customers with no activation fee and an automatic 10GB per month of additional data for 60 days is being added temporarily to existing customers’ capped phone plans and for new customers who activate capped phone plans prior to April 26.
- For new and existing Cricket Customers, starting March 27, Cricket is offering a new unlimited $15 plan with 2GB of data and unlimited talk and text for a limited time with no activation fee.
- AT&T is also supporting many educational initiatives including:
- underwriting expenses for the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) to be available to all educators doing distance learning
- contributing to Khan Academy to help them improve and expand online learning resources
- providing 60 days of free access and unlimited usage of Caribu, a video-calling application that allows family members to read, draw, and play games with one another while at different locations
- supporting TIME for Kids to remove their paywall through the end of the school year.
T-Mobile and Metro
- T-Mobile is now offering a 5G, $15/month plan called T-mobile Connect for anyone.
- For the 60 days after activation, Metro is offering a new $15 per month plan for unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of high-speed smartphone data. Get details from T-Mobile.
- New and current Metro customers with any voice line can also get a free 8” tablet (via rebate redemption) with a $15 unlimited tablet data plan.*
- MetroSmart Hotspot devices will be half off, and the $35 per month data plan will include 20GB—double the normal monthly data—for the next 60 days.
- All current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers who have legacy plans without unlimited high-speed data will get unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days.
- T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans with hotspot data will get an additional 10GB per bill cycle for the next 60 days for each voice line (T-Mobile Connect excluded).
- T-Mobile is working with its Lifeline partners to provide customers extra free data up to 5GB of data per month through May 13, 2020.
Sprint and Boost Mobile
- For the next 60 days: Sprint will not terminate service and will waive late fees if customers are unable to pay their Sprint bill because of the coronavirus. Get more details from Sprint and Boost Mobile
- Customers with metered data plans will receive unlimited data per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) at no extra cost.
- Sprint will provide customers with an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot data per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) at no extra cost.
- Sprint customers with mobile hotspot-capable handsets who don’t have a mobile hotspot today will now get 20GB as well per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) at no extra cost.
Federal Lifeline Programs
The Federal Lifeline Program is one of the four federal Universal Service programs that lowers the monthly cost of phone or mobile internet for low-income households. Eligible customers can receive up to $9.25 toward their monthly bill.
Free Wi-Fi Access
Wi-Fi access has been made accessible to the general public by several companies and local institutions. Wi-Fi may extend to the exterior of a building such as a school or library—and can generally be reached from the facility’s parking lot. Please remember to practice responsible social distancing and avoid group gatherings at these locations if you choose to use the site’s Wi-Fi.
- Public Comcast and AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots are available throughout the city for all individuals.
- LinkPHL always offers free, secure high speed Wi-Fi access. 15 Link kiosks are currently located in Center City.
- For district students, Wi-Fi access at all School District schools will remain active through the extended closure. For more information go to the School District of Philadelphia’s webpage on internet connectivity.
- Wi-Fi access at all Free Library of Philadelphia locations will remain active while the library branches are closed. An active library card number and PIN are needed to access the location’s Wi-Fi. For more information and instructions on how to access free Wi-Fi at any public library branch, visit the Free Library’s website.
- Here is a map of outdoor, accessible Wi-Fi hotspots in Philadelphia.
- The National Free Wi-Fi map provides free Wi-Fi hotspots at businesses and restaurants that are searchable by address. Most locations are in Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia. Many locations may be closed at this time, but they may still have active and available Wi-Fi service.
Tips for getting and improving access
In addition to new offers from the telecommunications companies, here are helpful tips to improve your internet access and how to turn your mobile phone into a Hot Spot to connect your computer to the internet.
Lastly, we recognize that not everyone may have access to a computer or device. We are working with the community to figure out how to better address this need. For now, we advise connecting with PCs for People, a non-profit that works to distribute low-cost computers nationally.
To learn more about what is happening nationally to get people connected to the internet, here are three additional resources that might be useful:
- The National Digital Inclusion Alliance offers resources for educators, policymakers, and a list of low-cost internet options nationally.
- The FCC has a COVID-19 response and has initiated a Keep America Connected Pledge to ensure Americans don’t lose internet access during this time.
- EveryoneOn Discount Broadband Locator is updating the ISP discount locator tool with information about COVID specific offers.
Accessing Computers and Digital Resources
Need a computer?
Below are some organizations that you can get computers and laptops from:
- Team Children is an IRS-approved Microsoft refurbisher with several hundred computers ready to distribute. It offers low-cost, high-quality, refurbished computers starting at $100 for desktops. All computers are loaded with Windows10 Pro and with over $500 worth of learning programs and links for kids including Khan Academy. To get a computer, call the office at 640-666-1795 to make an appointment. The Technology Center is in Audobon, PA and you can pick up your computer from this location for free. They will ship for an extra $35.
- NerdiT is a Delaware-based tech shop and nonprofit 501(c)(3) that distributes low-cost devices from cell phones to desktops within the communities of the Tri-State area (Philadelphia, Jersey, and Delaware). You can reach them by phone at 302-283-9871.
- Electronic Access Foundation (EAF) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization established for the purpose of donating surplus electronic equipment to other qualified charitable organizations in need.
- EAF can pick up equipment from any company or organization in the greater Philadelphia area at no cost and will wipe, refurbish by Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Standards, and then donate that equipment to nonprofits working with low income, veteran and disabled populations. If you have equipment you would like to donate, please go to https://e-access.org/donate-now/.
- If you are a nonprofit looking for equipment or want to partner with them, you can reach EAF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- PAR-Recycleworks is a non-profit electronics recycling company that offers workforce development and employment support for reentrants. PAR stands for People Advancing Reintegration, Inc. Contact PAR-Recycleworks via its website or by phone at 267-335-5455.
- For companies: they are able to pick up equipment for free and will refurbish and redistribute it to communities in need. They will also offer support to companies looking to hire returning citizens.
- For nonprofits: they work with local nonprofits or individuals who need equipment.
- human-I-T connects low-income individuals and nonprofits to technology, internet, and digital training.
- Qualified individuals can purchase low-cost computers. They have desktops as low as $55 and laptops for $85. They offer free shipping, 1 year of unlimited tech support and a 1-year hardware warranty.
- human-I-T will also work with schools and nonprofits that need more than 50 computers to do large bulk shipments. Contact them at email@example.com.
- PCs for People will ship used computers for free and is providing a 20% discount to new customers. They have desktops starting at $75 and offer free shipping and a 1-year warranty.
- Comcast Internet Essentials customers can get laptops for $150.
Online Resources for Job Seekers
While the CareerLink centers are closed, the CareerLink system is up and running. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (833) 750-5627 to get help when applying for jobs. There are companies hiring right now. The website is updated three times a day. This helpful one-pager provides key info for job seekers.
Philadelphia Works and the PA CareerLink® Philadelphia system just launched The Career Seeker Virtual Resource Center to assist job seekers plan and begin their job search, develop their resume, strengthen their professional skills, and even manage stress.
Additionally, the City wants to know how the region’s workers have been impacted by COVID-19. Please take the Rapid Response Worker Survey.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
About the Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Two-Steps to Enroll
- Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to submit an application or print out a mail-in application.
- Contact your preferred participating provider to select an eligible plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Some providers may have an alternative application they will ask you to complete.
Eligible households must both apply for the program and contact a participating provider to select a service plan.