Internet Access Options for Families
For Chromebook questions and assistance, please call the Parent & Family Technology Support Hotline at 215-400-4444.
The School District of Philadelphia understands how critical access to the Internet is for our students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The District is committed to finding ways to support the educational needs of our students while promoting social distancing habits for the safety of our students, families, teachers and staff, and the greater Philadelphia community.
The School District is working closely with the City of Philadelphia and Internet service providers to identify Internet access options available to our students and families. Below you’ll find a list of free or low-cost Internet and WiFi access options that are currently available. Details of offerings for each Internet service provider as well as any restrictions or limitations can be found on their respective websites. The School District of Philadelphia does not endorse any service providers, solutions or offerings, and makes this information available to our families in order to raise awareness of various options for free or low-cost Internet access. We will continue to update this list as we become aware of new or upgraded options. Please check back regularly for updates. The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology has made available a similar listing of options at: https://www.phila.gov/2020-03-25-staying-connected-during-covid-19/
For an up-to-date interactive map of Philadelphia WiFi Hotspots, please click HERE
(Photo courtesy of City of Philadelphia Office of Innovation & Technology)
Options from Commercial Providers
- Comcast is offering sixty (60) days of free Comcast Internet Essentials to new customers with limited means, regardless of previous debt to Comcast. This information is available in multiple languages; see the listing to the right.
- See their website for eligibility requirements and more details. The application is available in seven (7) 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.
- 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 apply for the program is from a mobile device at www.InternetEssentials.com. Call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) for English or 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish if you are having trouble signing up or don’t have access to an Internet-connected device. Note that Comcast call centers are experiencing heavy volume at this time. Please mention that you are a parent or guardian of a student in the School District.
- Xfinity WiFi Hotspots across the country will be available for free to anyone who needs them, including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers, through May 2020. For a map of Xfinity WiFi Hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once connected to a Hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name from the list of available networks, and then launch a browser. The duration of free use of Xfinity WiFi Hotspots will vary and may be restricted to a limited number of hours per day or month. Please contact Comcast directly for further details.
- For more information, visit https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19.
- Verizon will now offer low-cost Internet access through its Lifeline program to individuals who qualify. Limitations apply. For program details, visit their Lifeline webpage.
- Verizon will waive overage charges and late fees for customers who may be financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis through June 30.
- Verizon will provide two months of waived Internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers through June 30.
- Verizon will add 15GB of high-speed data for wireless consumers and small business customers.
- Consumer and small business Fios and DSL broadband Internet plans will have no data caps.
- For more information, visit https://www.verizon.com/about/news/our-response-coronavirus.
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 WiFi Hotspots open for anyone who needs them.
- 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.
- For more information from AT&T, visit https://www.att.com/shop/internet/access/.
T-Mobile and Metro
- T-Mobile Connect is a new program offering a $15 per month plan for unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of high-speed smartphone data.
- 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 (plus sales tax and activation fee. Requires new line of tablet service).
- T-Mobile has removed smartphone data caps for ALL customers for the next 60 days.
- T-Mobile has added 20GB Hotspot/tethering service for customers for the next 60 days.
- MetroSmart Hotspot devices will be 50% 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.
- For more information, visit https://www.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-update-on-covid-19-response.
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.
- 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.
- For more information from Sprint, visit https://www.sprint.com/en/landings/covid-19.html.
- For more information from Boost Mobile, visit https://www.boostmobile.com/about/covid-19-response.html.
Other Options for Free/Low-Cost Internet Access
PHLConnectED is the City of Philadelphia’s program to connect pre-K-12 families in need to free internet for digital learning through summer 2022.
PHLConnectED is available for families who:
- do not have an internet connection in the home;
- are only connected with a mobile phone;
- are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity; or
- have students who participate in remote learning in locations without internet access.
Families with internet access are also eligible if they:
- participate in public benefit programs with income qualifications like Medicaid;
- have students designated as English learners; or
- have students who receive special education services.
If you think you may be eligible, call the PHLConnectED hotline. Just dial 2-1-1 to hear how you may qualify for the program. For language services, press 8.
- WiFi 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 WiFi. For more information and instructions on how to access free WiFi at any public library branch, visit the Free Library website.
- Charter Spectrum has a coverage map of WiFi hotspots searchable by address.
- The National Free WiFi map provides free WiFi hotspots at businesses and restaurants that is searchable by address. Most locations are in Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia. Many locations may be closed at this time but have active WiFi service.
- The Federal Lifeline Program is one of the four federal Universal Service programs that lowers the monthly cost of phone or Internet for low-income households. Eligible customers can receive up to $9.25 toward their monthly bill.