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Digital and remote learning resources

Getting Internet Access

We recognize that many in Philadelphia may not have broadband Internet Access, particularly for a laptop or desktop computer (the preferred setup for online learning). This guide offers two low-cost ways for getting your computer connected:

You can share Internet access from your smartphone to other devices (this is called creating a “hotspot”). If you have a computer or tablet, you can then access the Internet through your phone's data plan.

Do you have questions about the resources below? Do you need technical assistance with a device or accessing educational resources?  Contact our Digital Navigator program today!

1. Sharing your smartphone data with other devices

This method will count against your monthly mobile data usage. However, many wireless providers are raising data caps during the current crisis (see below for details).

Instructions for Apple iPhone

Instructions for Apple iPhone

  • Instructions
  • Go to ‘Settings’
  • Click on ‘Cellular’
  • Click on ‘Personal Hotspot’
  • Turn on by clicking ‘Allow Others to Join’
  • You can change your hotspot password by clicking ‘Wi-Fi Password’
  • Follow the instructions that show up after clicking ‘Allow Other to Join’

Instructions for Android Phones

Creating a Hotspot with an Android Phone

  • Instructions
  • Open your phone's Settings app.
  • Tap Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Turn on Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • To see or change a hotspot setting, like the name or password, tap it. If needed, first tap Set up Wi-Fi hotspot.

Using your smartphone data to access the Internet from other devices adds significant data usage, which can lead to additional fees. Here’s how much data is used by some common apps:

Changes to Mobile Plans in response to Coronavirus

Find your mobile provider below to learn how they're helping customers during the current crisis.


  • Current customers receive an additional 15GB of data (through 4/30/20)
    • Those on an unlimited plan receive an additional 15GB for hotspot use.
  • An additional 15 GB of data will also be added for use from 05/01/2020 to 05/31/2020.
    • For Unlimited Data Plans: 15 GB of 4G LTE data will be added to your plan’s existing 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot allotment (most unlimited plans include 15GB or 20GB of 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot data standard)
      Eligible plans include: The Verizon Plan Unlimited, Go/Beyond/Above Unlimited Plans, Start/Play More/Do More/Get More Unlimited Plans
    • For Shared Data Plans: 15 GB of 4G LTE shared data will be added (can be used for Mobile Hotspot, or any other connected device using the shared data plan)
      Eligible plans include: More Everything Plans, Verizon Plans 1.0 and 2.0 (e.g., S, M, L, XL, XXL), Just Kids
    • For Jetpack - Unlimited or Metered Plans 15 GB of 4G LTE data will be added
      For Prepaid: All monthly plans with a data allowance: 15 GB of 4G LTE data will be added to monthly metered Smartphone (can be used for Mobile Hotspot), Jetpack and Tablet device plans
      Those on an unlimited plan receive an additional 15GB for hotspot use.
  • Those on an unlimited plan receive an additional 15GB for hotspot use.
  • Verizon is waiving all late fees for customers.
    • Extended through June 30, 2020. This policy has been extended from its original end date of May 13, 2020.
    • To qualify, people have to complete a short hardship form. Once the hardship form is submitted, the account will be protected from late fees and service termination through June 30, 2020.
    • You only need to submit the form once.
    • Activation and upgrade fees are waved when purchasing through My Verizon online or the My Verizon app.
    • also includes Telesales, Customer Service, Chat, & Verizon Authorized Retailers (does not include national retailers like BestBuy)
  • More Info


  • Overage charges for data, voice, or text may be waived (upon request)
  • Current customers receive an additional 15GB of hotspot data per line (at least through 5/13/20)
  • Automatic increase of hotspot data for unlimited plans currently including a monthly tethering allotment (no need to fill out form for increase) from April 2, 2020 through May 13, 202
  • Plans applicable:
    • AT&T unlimited elite
    • AT&T unlimited extra
    • AT&T unlimited & more premium
    • AT&T unlimited enhanced plus
    • AT&T unlimited plus
  • Customers will not have their service terminated for any phone plans.
  • All late payment fees are being waived (extended through 6/30) though a waiver form must be filled
  • Customers have up until 90 days after initial past due date or until June 30 (whichever is earlier) to pay their past due balance
    from April 1 through May 31, all calls placed by customers to or from Guam will not incur international charges
  • Military personnel on select navy ships can make calls at no cost through June 30th
  • All unlimited customers will have their hotspot data increased by 15GB (extended through June 30th)
  •  AT&T home internet customers get unlimited internet data through June 30th
  • Access from AT&T program for qualifying limited income households that provides internet access for only $5 or $10 a month with free installation
  • More Info


  • All T-Mobile, and Metro by T-Mobile, customers with legacy plans will receive unlimited mobile data (through 06/30/20).
  • Giving T-Mobile postpaid and Metro by T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans with mobile hotspot data the ability to add 10GB of Smartphone Mobile
  • HotSpot each month for the next two months (20GB total) through June 30, 2020 (excluding T-Mobile Connect)
  • Lifeline partners may receive up to 5GB of data free through 06/30/20.
  • Increasing the data allowance, at no extra charge, to schools and students using our EmpowerED digital learning program to ensure each participant has access to at least 20GB of data per month through June 30, 2020

Sprint & Boost Mobile

  • Sprint:
    • Providing Unlimited data for 60 days to customers with metered data plans (through June 30, 2020.)
    • Giving 20 GB/mo. of free mobile hotspot to customers with hotspot-capable devices (through June 30, 2020.)
    • Waiving per-minute toll charges for international long-distance calls from the U.S. to CDC- defined Level 3 countries (through May 31, 2020.) 
  • Boost Mobile:
    • Customers currently on an unlimited data plan with Boost Mobile, will automatically receive an additional 20 Gigs of mobile hotspot on their plans at no extra cost through April 30, 2020.  No need to call care or update your account through 
    • Customers currently on a tiered plan with Boost Mobile (including WiFi Hotspot plans), will automatically receive an additional 20 Gigs of data on their plans at no extra cost through April 30, 2020. No need to call care or update your account through  If you need additional mobile hotspot check out our rate plans that include mobile hotspot.
  • Get more details from Sprint and Boost Mobile

Mint Mobile

  • Customers can receive free unlimited mobile data through 6/14/20.
  • Only existing Mint customers as of April 14, 2020 will be able to take advantage of this extended offer.
  • If you downgrade your plan to a lower data amount during this offer period, you will no longer be able to take advantage of free add-ons.
  • Free unlimited data comes in 1GB or 3GB increments that may be renewed after 95% of the current allotment is used.

There are also inexpensive plans available for basic home Internet connections. Home (landline) internet access is usually unmetered (no data caps for usage).

2. Low-cost options for home Internet service

Comcast - Internet Essentials

  • New Internet Essentials customers will receive two free months of Internet service if you apply by June 30, 2020. After promotion, regular rates apply.
  • For all new and existing Internet Essentials customers, the speed of the program’s Internet service has increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
  • Households with outstanding debt owed to Comcast may be eligible for Internet Essentials. We are waiving this qualification if you apply and are approved by 6/30/20. After 6/30/20, standard eligibility rules apply.
  • Visit their website for eligibility requirements and more details. 
  • Application Instructions

Verizon Lifeline Plan

  • To new Lifeline eligible individuals, Verizon now offers FiOS (fiber optic connection to your home) for $19.99/month at speeds of 200 Mbps upload & download (including Disney+ for a year). Limitations apply. For program details, visit their Lifeline webpage. For answers to your questions, see Verizon’s COVID-19 FAQs.
  • For current Lifeline customers, Verizon offers two months of free internet and voice services to those with either a landline or a mobile phone
  • Waived late fees and no service disruption
  • If you’re a Verizon customer experiencing economic hardships because of COVID-19, please reach out. We're currently waiving late fees, and there will be no disruptions to your service before June 30, 2020.
  • No internet and voice charges for Lifeline customers
  • Verizon will offer two months of waived internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers. Starting April 3, Verizon will also offer a new affordable internet option for low-income households.


  • Through the Access from AT&T program, qualifying limited income households can get internet for either $5 or $10 a month
  • Free installation
  • Free in home wi-fi and data allowance of 150gb/1tb depending on area
  • $10 charge per additional 50gb
  • two months of free service for new customers who order by April 30th, $5 or $10 a month after that
  • eligibility expanded based on income and households participating in National School Lunch Program or Head Start
  • data overage fees waived
  • application will be reviewed in 3-5 business days after which someone will contact with next steps (current delays due to increased interest, but not specified time)
  • All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers and fixed wireless internet customers can use unlimited data
  • Check Your Availability

You may find additional helpful information and guidance at these pages from the City of Philadelphia: