Internet bills can be high, even if you’re lucky enough to take advantage of a special offer or sign-up bonus, but did you know that you can access internet services for free? It’s true, and it’s not as difficult as you’d think.
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is trying to make sure that even disadvantaged communities and families have access to the internet and the life-changing benefits it can bring. To do this, they’ve partnered with EveryoneOn.org to provide internet access for very little money, or even for free.
They will need to know your location, the availability of funds, and the income level of the applicant. They will use this information to determine how cheaply – or even free – you can get the service.
Visit the EveryoneOn.org, enter your zip code, then pick an offer to view. It will display the eligibility information and guide you from there.
This one isn’t exactly a way to get free internet, but it is a way to find free internet offers. It’s a search engine that returns options for free or cheap internet that you can then explore to see which one is right for you.
Simply go to their website (all-free-isp.com) and either choose your state from the drop-down menu, or enter your zip code. The site will return results for providers in your specific area. Click on each one to get an idea of what’s on offer, then choose the one that’s best for you.
NetZero was one of the original internet providers – back when all services still used the dial-up system! They still offer dial-up, and limit it to ten hours a month (not high speed), but it is free.
In order to access the free service, you will need to order an installation CD or download their software online. They have premium services too (i.e., not dial-up, not limited, and faster), but you don’t need to use them, and they won’t hassle you about using the free service either.
5. National Chain Stores and Businesses
It’s a well-known fact that places like Starbucks offer free Wi-Fi, but did you know that many other businesses also provide free internet access to customers and browsers? It’s true. Many businesses, especially national chain stores, have a company-wide system, which includes a provision for customer access to the internet.
It may be so you can access banking information while shopping, or compare deals, or it may simply be a perk offered for getting you into the store. Whatever a business’s reasons, you can benefit.
Juno is the non-dial-up equivalent of NetZero. It offers ten hours a month, just like NetZero, and there is no contract or anything needed. You also have the bonus of being able to create as many email addresses as you want, also free of charge. It isn’t high-speed internet, but it is likely faster than the dial-up option, and won’t tie up your phone lines while you’re using it.
If Juno is available in your area, it’s a great alternative to NetZero’s free plan.
There are many businesses around which offer free WIFI. Some have a policy that you use it while in the store, but others don’t – and there is no policing to check if you are buying anything, or just accessing the service.
To find which ones are available near you, check out wififreespot.com, click on your state, and it will display a huge list of companies in the local area that provide free Wi-Fi, including addresses, so you can tell which ones are near you when you need free access.
When in doubt, of course, nearly every coffee shop nowadays has free Wi-Fi access, as do many hotels and restaurants.
8. Your Local Library
Libraries are in almost every community, and they almost always offer free Wi-Fi access as part of their services. Their purpose is to provide information to anyone who comes in, so that people can have access to information regardless of income level or how much spending money they have. You can simply find their server – you may have to sign in – and start surfing.
Speeds vary, but most are pretty good. In some cases, the system may sign you out after a certain period of time, but you can simply sign back in to continue. In most of these cases, it will not interrupt your browsing activities, and you can continue from where you left off.
9. Check with Your Internet Service Provider
Your existing internet service provider probably has free dial-up internet access bundled together with any paid plan. It’s not very popular compared to non-dial-up, and they don’t make extra money on it, so you won’t see it advertised much – but it’s often there, and worth checking into.
10. Ask a Neighbor
Many times, sharing with a roommate or neighbor can be a great way to get cheap or free internet. You may even be able to pick up a free public internet service from a business in the same building as your apartment, if they are close enough and the signal is strong enough.
Sharing with a neighbor is an economical way to cut or eliminate costs. Internet providers don’t like it, but there is little they can do to stop it.
You will want to make sure that you aren’t using up too much bandwidth, causing both you and the neighbor to have slow or interrupted service. For most browsing though, this isn’t usually a problem.
3 Tips on How to Access Free Internet Safely
The internet is a big, virtually unregulated network – and you probably have important personal information on your device, or may want to enter information into websites – so it is important that you stay safe when using it.
There are people out there who are trying to get access to your personal information (banking, addresses, shopping data, etc.), but a few simple precautions are usually enough to protect yourself and your data.
1. Use Secure Websites
Always make sure the website you are using is secure. Watch for the little padlock symbol where you type in the IP addresses. This symbol means that the site’s security protocols are in place and up to date.
2. Protect Your Personal Information
Don’t use free services that seem to want unnecessary information. Sometimes they will require your email address, which will be added to their mailing lists for promotions and may also be sold to third parties for similar purposes – this isn’t uncommon. It can be annoying, but isn’t usually more dangerous than that.
Sites that want more though, like home addresses, or credit or debit card information, should be avoided – there will be another service in the area that won’t need all of that. If providing this information is the only way to gain internet access through a service, then leave it, and be sure to set your device to “forget” the network.
3. Forget the Network
Most computers remember free websites (as well as others) and will sign you on automatically when you are next in range of those services. This works in cooperation with the settings on your device, so there are two things to do to stop this from happening.
First, turn off the “connect automatically” option in your network settings. This will help you to make sure you are connecting intentionally, and not whenever you’re near the same store or network.
Second, “forget” the network when you’re finished using it. This is also done in the settings.
The internet is everywhere, and though service providers are still making money by offering access to it, there are other organizations who will save those costs for you, and allowing you to access the net without having to pay much, or anything, to do so.
Companies may pay for it to get you into their stores or cafes, community organizations (like libraries) may provide it as a service to the public, and government agencies (like the FCC) may provide it to help bring up the productivity and stability of lower-income areas and population.
Whatever the reasons, and whichever the provider, you can benefit from free internet access just by knowing these tips and putting them into action. Stay savvy, stay safe, and enjoy your free access to the world wide web.