Your Guide to Internet Service During New Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Can I get no-cost internet during the COVID-19 outbreak?

You can get no-cost, in-home internet for up to two months during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak if you qualify for certain low-income internet programs or have a student living in your household. Here’s a list of the internet providers offering limited, no-cost internet services during the outbreak.

Provider

Service

Who qualifies

Offer

How to get it

Altice OptimumInternet up to 30 Mbps New customers with K–12 or college students in householdNo cost for first 60 daysCall 1-866-200-9522
Altice SuddenlinkInternet up to 30 Mbps New customers with K–12 or college students in householdNo cost for first 60 daysCall 1-888-633-0030
Charter SpectrumInternet up to 100 Mbps and no installation feesNew customers with K–12 or college students in householdNo cost for first 60 daysCall 1-844-488-8395
Comcast XfinityInternet Essentials package with speeds up to 25 MbpsNew Xfinity customers who are eligible to public assistance programsNo cost for first 60 days

($9.95/mo. after)


Learn more
CoxInternet up to 15 Mbps through Connect2Compete programNew Cox customers with at least one K–12 student in household
who qualifies for public assistance programs
No cost for first 30 days

($9.95/mo. after)

Learn more

Provider

Altice Optimum

Service

Internet up to 30 Mbps

Who qualifies

New customers with K–12 or college students in household
OfferNo cost for first 60 days

How to get it

Call 1-866-200-9522

Provider

Altice Suddenlink

Service

Internet up to 30 Mbps

Who qualifies

New customers with K–12 or college students in household
OfferNo cost for first 60 days

How to get it

Call 1-888-633-0030

Provider

Charter Spectrum

Service

Internet up to 100 Mbps and no installation fees

Who qualifies

New customers with K–12 or college students in household
OfferNo cost for first 60 days

How to get it

Call 1-844-488-8395

Provider

Comcast Xfinity

Service

Internet Essentials package with speeds up to 25 Mbps

Who qualifies

New Xfinity customers who are eligible to public assistance programs
OfferNo cost for first 60 days

($9.95/mo. after)


How to get it

Learn more

Provider

Cox

Service

Internet up to 15 Mbps through Connect2Compete program

Who qualifies

New Cox customers with at least one K–12 student in household
who qualifies for public assistance programs
OfferNo cost for first 30 days

($9.95/mo. after)

How to get it

Learn more

Data effective 3/18/20. Not all offers available in all areas. Prices and packages are subject to change.

Every internet provider that has signed the Keep Americans Connected Pledge has also opened up their Wi-Fi hotspots for free public use.

Pro tip: Learn more about these no-cost internet opportunities and low-income internet programs that you can use all year-round.

Will my internet speed be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak?

Your internet speed might be affected by the new coronavirus outbreak. It won’t be directly affected by the virus itself, but it may be affected by everyone staying inside to help prevent it spreading. More people than usual are working and learning from home, staying in for movie nights, video calling friends and family, and generally hanging out online.

All that traffic means that your ISP’s (internet service provider’s) network infrastructure and your home network could see some speed issues due to network congestion, which is basically an internet traffic jam.

Pro tip: If your internet seems slower than usual, run an internet speed test. It’ll help you see what speeds you actually have to work with. From there, you can compare your results against the internet speed you should be getting from your provider. If they don’t match up, it might be time for a new plan or provider.

Test your speed.

If you’re getting the correct speeds to your home but your connections still seem slow, it’s probably an issue with your home network. It might be that your internet connection can’t hold up to your whole family suddenly getting online at the same time. It might also be because your equipment is outdated.

Pro tip: Check out our guide to speeding up your Wi-Fi in 10 steps to help diagnose and fix your home network speed problems.

If I’m working from home, how much internet speed do I need?

To give a broad recommendation, 30 Mbps is a good internet speed for working from home. But how much speed you need to work from home depends on how you work and who else is using the internet. You might be able to get away with less or you could need more.

For example, constant video conference calls will use more internet speed than emailing your coworkers or writing in Google Docs. And if your whole family is stuck at home trying to stay entertained online, you’ll need more bandwidth.

Pro tip: Get a custom internet speed recommendation based on how you use the internet with our How Much Speed Do I Need? Tool.

Will my internet service be shut off if I can’t pay my bill during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Good news—your internet probably won’t get shut off right now if you can’t pay your bill. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has been working with internet and phone providers to make sure no one loses access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time of writing, more than 150 internet and wireless providers have signed the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. Any company that has signed the pledge agrees to do three things:

  1. Not terminate internet service for residential or small-business customers if they cannot pay their bills because of the new coronavirus outbreak
  2. Waive late fees incurred if a residential or small-business customer cannot pay their bill because of the new coronavirus outbreak
  3. Open its public Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs it (these are often available only to the company’s own subscribers)

Will my internet data cap stay the same during the COVID-19 outbreak?

On top of the three articles of the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai requested that ISPs relax their data caps “in appropriate circumstances” pertaining to the new coronavirus pandemic. Many providers are answering the call and waiving data caps and overage charges until May.

At the time of writing, these internet providers have temporarily paused their data caps:

Pro tip: You can read more in-depth information about internet data caps and which providers have them in our guide to ISPs with data caps.

Can I switch internet companies during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, you can still switch internet service providers or plans, and now is a good time to switch if you find your current internet connection can’t keep up with all your social-distancing activities online. Start out by calling your provider to see about an upgrade. It can save you some hassle, and you might even end up with a better price.

If you’re set on switching providers, make sure that you’re not under a contract agreement before you switch—otherwise you might find yourself with some unpleasant fines and early termination fees (ETFs). On the upside, many providers offer new discounts to new customers, and you might be able to install your new service yourself.

Need a change of pace?

See all the internet providers in your area to compare other options.

Author -

Rebecca is a natural techie and the friend you turn to when your Wi-Fi randomly stops working. Since graduating from the University of Evansville with a degree in creative writing, Rebecca has leveraged her tech savvy to write hundreds of data-driven tech product and service reviews. In addition to HighSpeedInternet.com, her work has been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ and iMore.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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