Spectrum Internet Assist is a low-income internet plan that’s $19.99 monthly. It gives you 30 Mbps download speeds and 4.0 Mbps upload speeds. You must meet the requirements to get on this plan. I’ll cover them throughout this guide.
Spectrum’s low-income plan works best for homes that want potentially free internet and no data caps.
As an enthusiast of internet service providers, I want to find plans that offer the most value. That also goes for low-income plans. So I’ve researched Spectrum’s Internet Assist plan.
To help you determine this plan’s worth, I’ll cover the following:
- Pros & cons
- What it is
- Pricing & Wi-Fi service
- How to apply
- Affordable Connectivity Program
- Customer service
- How it compares to other Spectrum internet plans
- Versus the competition
Let’s get started.
Spectrum Low Income Internet Pros & Cons
Here are the pros and cons for Spectrum Internet Assist:
- No hard data cap
- Free modem
- Access to over 500,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots
- Free 100 Mbps internet if you qualify for Spectrum ACP
- No discount on devices
- Must pay for the router
What Is Spectrum’s Low Income Internet Plan?
Spectrum Internet Assist is how the ISP provides more affordable internet to qualifying low-income individuals. It gives you 30 Mbps download and 4.0 Mbps upload speeds for $19.99 monthly.
“Perks” you’ll get with this package include:
- Free modem rental
- Over 500,000 wireless hotspots around the U.S.
- No contract
- Free security suite
Spectrum didn’t sell me on using the security suite over Windows Defender. By the way, it’s only usable on Windows PCs .
The Wi-Fi hotspots are the best features of this package. And the most helpful perk I’ve used from any internet service provider. It allows you to access free Wi-Fi hotspots with varying speeds at participating locations.
I wrote a separate guide that provides more details.
Will 30/4.0 Mbps network speeds prove useful for your household?
What Can You Do With 30 Mbps Download and 4.0 Mbps Upload Speeds?
Here are examples of what your household can do with 30 Mbps download speeds:
- 10 people streaming 720p HD video at once
- 6 people streaming 1080p FHD simultaneously
- 1 person streaming 4K UHD V1
- 1 person streaming GEFORCE NOW in 1080p
- 4 people browsing social media and/or Google
30 Mbps can accommodate most household’s needs for streaming video over YouTube, Netflix, or whatever service people use nowadays. But this speed’s potential vanishes when you throw file downloads into the mix.
If you’re trying to watch The Mandalorian while someone is downloading a 5.0 gigabyte (GB) game on Steam in the other room, you’ll likely experience buffering.
What can the 4.0 Mbps upload speeds do for you?
Not much. You could run 1 Ring video doorbell (requires 2.0 Mbps) . Or 1 Nest Camera (requires 4.0 Mbps).
Or 1 person in your home could participate in a 720p Zoom group call . That requires 2.6 Mbps and will consume over half your upstream bandwidth. A one-on-one session will need 1.2 Mbps.
You could have a couple of people using one-on-one calls simultaneously.
If I didn’t scare you away from Internet Assist, slide into the next part of this gauntlet. The requirements.
Spectrum Low Income Internet Requirements
You’ll need to participate in 1 of these programs to use Spectrum’s Internet Assist plan:
- Your home has 1 child who takes part in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- The applicant is receiving Supplemental Security Income
- Your home has 1 child who participates in The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
- Haven’t gotten Charter Communications’ Internet services within 30 days of signing up for Internet Assist
- Have no outstanding debt with Charter Communications
The applicant will need to prove they’re a part of at least 1 of the first 3 programs. Ways one can confirm their participation include scanning the benefits letter.
Spectrum Internet Assist Pricing & Features
Spectrum Internet Assist costs $19.99 monthly. This price doesn’t include taxes and other fees.
This is the only broadband plan that doesn’t charge you the $19.99 self-installation fee.
It comes with a free modem, but not a router. I’ll talk about that next.
Spectrum Wi-Fi Router Explained
Spectrum Advanced WiFi costs $5.00 monthly and is the name for the leased router they provide you with.
It’s an 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) router that supports maximum Wi-Fi speeds for all Spectrum internet plans. It also allows you to micromanage devices connected to your Wi-Fi network.
Most modern routers can do this. Don’t let Spectrum tempt you.
You’re better off buying a third-party wireless router or gateway. You’ll save $60 a year.
And you’ll likely have access to better features. We aggregated and tested routers into a couple of categories:
- Budget-friendly routers: best low-cost options
- Best routers for Spectrum: devices that’ll work on all Spectrum plans
Since the plan only has 30 Mbps maximum download speeds, you don’t have to search too hard for a router that’ll support these speeds. But ensure you get the best value.
Hence, why I recommend the above guides.
How to Apply for Spectrum Internet Assist
See if you qualify for the program by visiting spectrum.net/support/forms/Spectrum_internet_assist. Upon landing on this page, fill out the form.
You’ll need to provide your full name, address, and documents to prove you’re eligible.
Submit your application and wait for a response. I couldn’t find any credible sources stating how long it usually takes to receive a response.
I recommend contacting Spectrum’s billing department after a couple of weeks to check on the status of your application.
Do you participate in a government benefits program and believe you should get cheaper internet? You have another option.
Affordable Connectivity Program 101: Requirements & Other Information
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) gives qualifying households a $30 recurring monthly credit for internet bills. The credit’s $75 monthly if you live in qualifying Tribal Lands.
Spectrum customers who qualify for the ACP are eligible for a special internet plan. It provides 100 Mbps download speeds and 10 Mbps upload speeds for $29.99 monthly [4, 5].
It’s free with the Spectrum ACP credit.
You also won’t need to pay for the self-installation fee and the Wi-Fi router rental. I recommend applying for this plan over Internet Assist. There’s no reason to get the latter plan in this case.
Here’s what the pricing for each plan looks like with the ACP credit:
|Tier||Promo. Price||* Price (w/ ACP Credit)||Post Promo. Price||Post Promo. Price w/ Credit|
Here’s a simplified view:
Take part in at least 1 of these programs to receive the ACP credit:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Authority (FPHA)
- Survivor’s & Veteran’s Pension
- Reduced-price school lunch or breakfast
- Federal Pell Grant (current award year)
- Meet the requirements for Internet Assist
- Lifeline (another internet benefits program)
If you already have a Spectrum internet plan, apply for the ACP credit by visiting affordableconnectivity.gov and click ‘Apply Now.’
New customers will need to follow the same route. But they’ll need to complete the application, get the National Verifier ID, then shop for a Spectrum internet plan.
Where Is Charter Spectrum Low Income Internet Available?
Spectrum low-income internet plans are available in these states:
|New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico|
|New York||North Carolina||Ohio|
Check whether Spectrum supports your city by entering spectrum.com/services into your browser. Upon opening the page, click on your state.
See whether they support your city and county.
There’s also typing your address on Spectrum’s website. But my option’s quicker.
Learn how to contact their customer support in the next section.
Spectrum Low Income Internet Customer Service
Spectrum Internet Assist customers will need to use one of these channels to contact customer support:
- Call 833-267-6094: they’re available 24/7
- Chat with them online: you must log in to your Spectrum account
- Send a friendly Tweet to @ask_Spectrum
- Post on their Facebook page: facebook.com/Spectrum
To upgrade to a different Spectrum plan, call 855-366-7132. What are the internet-only plans customers can upgrade to, though?
Spectrum Low-income Internet vs. Spectrum Broadband Internet Plans
Spectrum’s other cable internet plans include the following:
|Tier||Promo. Price||Post-Promo.||Max. Speed (DL/UL)||Best For|
|Internet Assist||$19.99/mo.||NA||30/4.0 Mbps||720p video streaming|
|Spectrum 100 Mbps||Free w/ ACP||NA||100/10 Mbps||1080p & 4K video streaming|
|Internet||$49.99/mo.||$74.99/mo.||300/10 Mbps||Gaming & 4K video streaming|
|Internet Ultra||$69.99/mo.||$94.99/mo.||500/20 Mbps||Remote collaboration & price|
|Internet Gig||$89.99/mo.||$114.99/mo.||1,000/35 Mbps||Livestreaming, remote workers, & downloading large files frequently|
Internet Assist works for homes with over 3 people if almost no one uses the internet. Otherwise, this plan will offer the best results for homes with 2 or fewer people.
You could have 6 people simultaneously streaming 1080p FHD video. Or 10 people watching 720p HD video at once. But there’s also background bandwidth usage to consider.
30 Mbps doesn’t give you much flexibility. Neither does 4.0 Mbps upload speeds.
But they’ll give you more than enough speed if your home solely streams videos and doesn’t constantly upload or download files.
The 100 Mbps internet plan will support 4 devices watching 4K at the same time. It’s also great for gaming, online browsing, and downloading smaller files.
But it requires you to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Credit.
None of these plans will work for anyone who uploads large files frequently. You’ll want to use the Verizon Fios Lifeline Discount, which I’ll discuss in the next section.
You’ll need to upgrade if you want to use Ring video doorbells or other home security cameras. Each camera would require at least 4.0 Mbps of upstream bandwidth. 2 cameras would require Internet 300 Mbps.
5 cameras would require you to have Ultra. And 8 cameras would require Gig.
The only other reason you’d want to upgrade your download speeds depends on how often people in your home download large files. If you have a gamer in your home who downloads frequent game patches, that’ll demand a lot of downstream bandwidth.
I can’t recommend any of these plans because I don’t know your home’s internet usage patterns. You’ll need to monitor these yourselves. Then determine the best plan for your home that’s within your budget.
Internet Assist vs. Other Low-income Internet Plans
Compare how Internet Assist does compared to other ISPs’ low-income internet plans:
|Provider & Tier||Price||Max. Speeds|
|Spectrum Internet Assist||$17.99/mo.||30 Mbps/4.0 Mbps|
|Cox Connect||$9.95 or $30/mo.||100/3.0 Mbps|
|Xfinity Internet Essentials||$9.95/mo. or $24.95/mo.||50/10 & 100/15 Mbps|
|Verizon Fios Lifeline Discount||$0.00–$49.99/mo.||300–940 Mbps (downstream)300–800 Mbps (upstream)|
If you’re using the ACP credit with these plans, pricing (as a factor) perishes. I’ll only compare features and speeds in this comparison.
Spectrum Internet Assist has the most strict requirements, yet the least desirable perks.
There’s no hard data cap, which makes it an ideal plan for a 1-person home that streams over 200 hours of 4K UHD TV1 monthly. And that’s where the perks end.
Cox Connect2Compete gives you access to refurbished laptops as low as $95 . And they don’t have the worst specs. But I won’t provide details here.
Cox also gives Connect2Compete customers a $120 discount on Office Home and Student 2019. BUT Connect2Compete is only available to homes that have a K–12 student. Connect Assist, their plan for non-K–12 low-income homes, has different perks.
And they’re not special. One includes a free security suite (really?).
Xfinity offers a discounted laptop for $149.99 and a free network gateway. Despite having a data cap, it’s the best low-income internet provider on this list. Behind Verizon Fios Lifeline.
Verizon offers discounted fiber optic internet and doesn’t have strict criteria. With the upload speeds this plan offers, you’ll have the following:
- More stable internet connection
- Fewer outages because of bad weather
- Enough upload speeds to run over 8 home security cameras
- A means for remote workers to quickly upload files for clients
There’s one downside. Availability. Fios is only available in a handful of metropolitan areas.
Speaking of availability.
I compare overlapping supported states in a separate guide.
FAQs: Spectrum Low Income Internet
Read on to find commonly asked questions about Spectrum Internet Assist.
How Do I Get Free Internet With Spectrum?
Get free internet with Spectrum by qualifying for the Affordable Connectivity Program. It gives a recurring $30 credit for internet plans to households using government benefits programs.
Does Spectrum Internet Assist Offer Discounted Laptops?
Spectrum Internet Assist does not give you access to discounted laptops or tablets.
I can’t honestly recommend Spectrum’s low-income internet plan over their competitors’. Unless you’re in a situation where you can only access Spectrum. Or if you’re a single household who streams a lot of 4K video.
You may like Spectrum’s other services, though. Check out an overview of all their services in a separate guide.