How to Get Cheap or Free Internet Access

free internet connectionWhile access to the Internet is becoming essential to our everyday lives, a fast Internet connection is unfortunately quite expensive, often costing up to $70 a month or more. The good news is that if you are flexible, there are still plenty of ways you can get cheap or free Internet access.

Here are a few things you might want to try:

See If You Qualify for Federal Programs

Many service providers offer cheap Internet service to low-income Americans. To find out if you qualify, visit http://cheapinternet.com. Services start at just $9.95 a month for broadband services, which are available from Comcast and Centurylink. The easiest way to qualify is if you are already on a government assistance program like food stamps or Medicaid, or if you have an income that is less than 135% the poverty level.

Use Free Wifi Hotspots

The number of free Wifi hotspots continues to grow, and as long as you have a laptop or other mobile device, you will be able to enjoy wireless Internet at an increasing number of locations. Popular spots that offer free wireless Internet include Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Whole Foods, and McDonalds. To find a free Wifi spot in your area, go to wififreespot.com or http://www.wefi.com/maps/ and type in your zip code.

Go to the Public Library

If you have a laptop, you can use the hotspot at your library. Most libraries will also have computers already connected to the Internet that you can use for free.

Consider Tethering

If you already have a mobile phone with a robust data plan, you may be able to “tether” the phone and essentially use it as a hotspot for connecting other devices such as a laptop to the Internet. There may be an extra charge for tethering, so check with your provider first. For more information on tethering, check out this article by About.com: http://mobileoffice.about.com/od/phonesformobileworkers/f/what-is-tethering.htm

Get a Dial-Up Connection

This is among the cheapest ways to connect to the Internet. While dial-up speeds are painfully slow and not a good solution for browsing the Internet these days, if all you’re doing is checking e-mail, it might be sufficient for you. You could use dial-up just for e-mail, and go to a free hotspot when you need a faster connection.

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