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Digital and remote learning resources

Getting Internet Access

We recognize that many families in Philadelphia don’t have 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.  

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

Creating a Hotspot with an iPhone

  • 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

  • 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.

Verizon

  • Current customers receive an additional 15GB of data (through 4/30/20)
    • Those on an unlimited plan receive an additional 15GB for hotspot use.
  • Verizon is waiving all late fees for customers.
  • Activation and upgrade fees are waved when purchasing through My Verizon online or the My Verizon app.
  • More Info

AT&T

  • 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)
  • Customers will not have their service terminated for any phone plans.
  • All late payment fees are being waived (through 5/13/20).
  • All unlimited customers will have their hotspot data increased by 15GB through May 13th.

T-Mobile

  • All T-Mobile, and Metro by T-Mobile, customers with legacy plans will receive unlimited mobile data (through 5/13/20).
  • All plans with hotspots receive an additional 10GB for hotspot use per billing cycle per line (excluding T-Mobile Connect)
  • Lifeline partners may receive up to 5GB of data free through 5/13/20.

Sprint & Boost Mobile

  • Service will not be terminated due to late fees for the next 60 days.
  • Customers with metered plans receive free unlimited data for 60 days (2 billing cycles).
  • Customers receive an additional 20GB of free hotspot data for 60 days (two billing cycles).
  • Customers without hotspot plans will receive 20GB of free hotspot data for 60 days (two billing cycles).
  • Get more details from Sprint and Boost Mobile

Mint Mobile

  • Customers can receive free unlimited mobile data through 5/14/20.

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

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.

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