Internet Basics: A slightly different inexpensive internet plan for low-income Americans

In these difficult economic times with so many people unemployed or employed only part time when they need fulltime jobs, CenturyLink Internet Basics is exactly what so many families and individuals need to help them search for and apply for jobs, to follow up on job applications, to find medical care and communicate with their doctors, to help their kids with their homework, and to help them with so many other tasks that can only be done on the internet.

If CenturyLink offers high-speed DSL internet service in your area, their Internet Basics 1.5 Mbps program for low income Americans is an excellent option for cheap broadband service.

First of all, let’s be clear that there are a few differences between the Internet Basics program and the program offered by the companies participating in the nationwide Connect to Compete program.

First, let’s cover the similarities:

Both programs offer high-speed Internet for just $9.95 a month for the first year ($14.95/month afterwards). Both programs offer a personal computer for just $150. But, Internet Basics offers free introductory computer education classes while Connect to Compete customers pay a small $1 fee per class.

The Internet Basics computer also comes with a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee, 24/7 technical support, plus parental controls. You’ll even get your own customizable CenturyLink home page. So far, there’s no word on whether the Connect the Compete program offers these extras.

How to Qualify for Internet Basics

Now let’s get to the primary difference between the two programs: How to qualify.

First of all, it’s important to understand that the members of the Connect to Compete alliance are all cable television companies, but CenturyLink is primarily a telephone company that also offers television through DirecTV, a separate company.

CenturyLink agreed to offer the Internet Basics plan so that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would approve its 2011 purchase of Qwest Communications, another telephone company.

As a result of being a telephone company, CenturyLink’s Internet Basics program follows rules set up for another quasi-governmental program called Lifeline Assistance which offers discounted landline phone service and free government cell phones (link it) to the financially disadvantaged. The qualification guidelines for the two programs are identical.

In short, you probably qualify for the Internet Basics program if:

    (1) You also participate in other governmental assistance programs such as food stamps (SNAP), public housing assistance, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, Supplemental Security Income, various Home Energy Assistance Programs, National School Lunch and other programs. (Each state has it’s own programs list.)


    (2) Your household income is at or below 135% to 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. (Note: It’s 135% in all states except Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas, where it’s 150%.)
People in Household All states except:
1 $15,755 $17,505 $25,500 $20,423 For any size household:

Residents under 65 $23,265.00

Residents over 65 $27,142.50

2 $21,236 $23,595 $25,500 $27,528
3 $26,717 $29,685 $29,700 $34,633
4 $32,198 $35,775 $35,900 $41,738
5 $37,679 $41,865 $42,100 $48,843
6 $43,160 $47,955 $48,300 $55,948
7 $48,641 $54,045 $54,500 $55,948
8 $54,122 $60,135 $60,700 $63,053
For each additional person, add $5,481 $6,090 $6,200 $7,105

CenturyLink has agreed to offer the program for at least five years. There’s no guarantee that the program will continue beyond that timeframe, so we recommend that you apply as soon as possible to take advantage of this offer for as long as you possibly can.

Contact Information


Internet Basics Program:

CenturyLink profile:
Profile page: CenturyLink internet

Important note: you cannot have been a CenturyLink internet subscriber in the last 90 days and you cannot have any overdue CenturyLink bills or unreturned equipment. This is important to consider, because many Americans find themselves in the situation of already having more expensive, regularly-priced CenturyLink service and not being able to sign up for their Internet Basics program.

Where is Internet Basics Available?

Internet Basics is available in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Internet Basic is available in the following cities and towns:

(Note, if you see your state but not your city or town, you should still call in case CenturyLink added service to your town after our list was created.)

Alabama: Anniston, Auburn, Birmingham, Cullman, Dothan, Enterprise, Jasper, Mobile, Opelika

Arkansas: Bentonville, Cabot, AR, Conway, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Paragould, Pine Bluff, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Sherwood, Springdale, Van Buren

Arizona: Apache Junction, Avondale, Buckeye, Casa Grande, Chandler, El Mirage, Flagstaff, Florence, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Laveen, Maricopa, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Scottsdale, Sierra Vista, Sun City, Surprise, Tempe, Tucson, Yuma

Colorado: Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Commerce City, Denver, Durango, Englewood, Fort Collins, Golden, Grand Junction, Greeley, Littleton, Longmont, Loveland, Montrose, Parker, Pueblo, Thornton, Westminster

Florida: Altamonte Springs, Apopka, Arcadia, Bonita Springs, Brooksville, Cape Coral, Casselberry, Clermont, Crestview, Dade City, Davenport, Deland, Deltona, Dunnellon, Englewood, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Fort Walton Beach, Haines City, Homestead, Inverness, Jacksonville, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Lake Wales, Lakeland, Land O Lakes, Leesburg, Lehigh Acres, Longwood, Middleburg, Milton, Naples, New Smyrna Beach, North Fort Myers, North Port, Ocala, Ocoee, Okeechobee, Orlando, Oviedo, Panama City, Port Charlotte, Port Saint Lucie, Punta Gorda, Saint Cloud, Sanford, Sebring, Spring Hill, Tallahassee, The Villages, Wesley Chapel, Winter Garden, Winter Park, Winter Springs, Zephyrhills

Georgia: Hinesville, GA

Iowa: Ames, Ankeny, Bettendorf, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, Marion, Marshalltown, Sioux City, Urbandale, Waterloo, West Des Moines

Idaho: Boise, Caldwell, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Meridian, Nampa, Pocatello, Rexburg, Twin Falls

Florida: Galesburg, IL, Pekin, IL, Rockford, IL, Anderson, Brownsburg, Columbus, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Franklin, Goshen, Greenfield, Greenwood, Indianapolis, Kokomo, La Porte, Lafayette, Marion, Mishawaka, Noblesville, South Bend, Warsaw, West Lafayette

Kansas: Hutchinson, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Manhattan, Olathe, Topeka

Louisiana: Alexandria, Denham Springs, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Opelousas, Ruston, Shreveport, Sulphur, West Monroe

Michigan: Davison, Grand Blanc, Holland, Hudsonville, Jackson, Midland, Monroe, Saginaw, Traverse City, Andover

Minnesota: MN, Anoka, Bemidji, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Elk River, Farmington, Hopkins, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Mankato, Minneapolis, Moorhead, Osseo, Rochester, Saint Cloud, Saint Paul, Shakopee, Stillwater, Winona

Missouri: Blue Springs, Columbia, Independence, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kansas City, Lees Summit, Liberty, O Fallon, Rolla, Saint Charles, Saint Joseph, Saint Peters, Sedalia, Wentzville

Mississippi: Olive Branch, Southaven

Montana: Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula

North Carolina: Apex, Asheboro, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Durham, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Goldsboro, Greensboro, Greenville, Henderson, Hickory, High Point, Hope Mills, Jacksonville, Kernersville, Kinston, Lenoir, Lexington, Lumberton, Morganton, Mount Airy, New Bern, Raeford, Raleigh, Reidsville, Rocky Mount, Sanford, Thomasville, Wake Forest, Wilson, Winston Salem

North Dakota: Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks

Nebraska: Bellevue, Grand Island, Kearney, Omaha, Papillion

New Jersey: Hillsborough, Morristown, Princeton, Somerset

New Mexico: Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Clovis, Farmington, Las Cruces, Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, Roswell, Santa Fe

Nevada: Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas

Ohio: Alliance, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Barberton, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Delaware, Elyria, Findlay, Lebanon, Lima, Lorain, Loveland, Mansfield, Marion, Marysville, Mason, Medina, Middletown, Newark, Perrysburg, Pickerington, Ravenna, Reynoldsburg, Sylvania, Toledo, Troy, Warren, West Chester, Westerville, Westlake, Wooster, Xenia, Zanesville

Oregon: Albany, Beaverton, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, Grants Pass, Gresham, Hillsboro, Klamath Falls, Lake Oswego, Mcminnville, Medford, Oregon City, Portland, Redmond, Roseburg, Salem, Springfield

Pennsylvania: Butler, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Hanover, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mechanicsburg, New Castle

South Carolina: Beaufort, Greenwood, Orangeburg

South Dakota: Rapid City, Sioux Falls

Tennessee: Bristol, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Elizabethton, Greeneville, Johnson City, Kingsport, Ooltewah

Texas: Belton, College Station, Conroe, Copperas Cove, Corpus Christi, Corsicana, Denton, Fort Worth, Georgetown, Greenville, Houston, Humble, Huntsville, Killeen, Kingwood, Kyle, Longview, Magnolia, Montgomery, New Braunfels, Palestine, Round Rock, San Marcos, Seguin, Temple, Tyler, Waco, Weatherford

Utah: American Fork, Bountiful, Cedar City, Clearfield, Draper, Herriman, Kaysville, Layton, Lehi, Logan, Ogden, Orem, Pleasant Grove, Provo, Riverton, Roy, Saint George, Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan, Spanish Fork, Tooele, West Jordan

Virginia: Charlottesville, Danville, Glen Allen, Lynchburg, Martinsville

Washington: Auburn, Battle Ground, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Bremerton, Edmonds, Federal Way, Gig Harbor, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Lacey, Lakewood, Longview, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Moses Lake, Olympia, Pasco, Port Angeles, Port Orchard, Pullman, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Seattle, Shelton, Spanaway, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Yakima

Wisconsin: Appleton, Chippewa Falls, De Pere, Eau Claire, Fond Du Lac, Green Bay, Janesville, La Crosse, Madison, Manitowoc, Neenah, Oconomowoc, Oshkosh, Sun Prairie, Watertown, Waukesha

Wyoming: Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Laramie

Recent Articles we’ve published on Internet Basics

centurylink logo CenturyLink’s Internet Basics: Not Living Up to Its Potential - CenturyLink made a lot of noise when it introduced Internet Basics -- a program supposedly designed to bring high-speed internet service to America's neediest families for under $10 per month. That was then, this is now.
netbook low income How you can get a PC (and a lot more) for just $149 if you are low-income - If you’re a low-income American, you can now get a PC that’s completely loaded with all the top software plus computer training for just $149.
FCC logo Debate heats up: Are Internet Essentials and Internet Basics really just government programs? - There’s no doubt that both sides of the “Are Internet Essentials and Internet Basics government programs” question are firmly entrenched and unwilling to give an inch.
internet essentials vs internet basics Internet Basics vs Internet Essentials – what’s the difference? - Many readers ask us what the difference is between the two primary low-income cheap internet programs, Internet Basics and Internet Essentials. Here's all the details.
get internet without c2c How to get cheap internet even if you don’t qualify for Connect2Compete - Connect2Compete has worked out a deal with a company called Freedom Pop to offer a internet access to those people who can’t find affordable internet access anywhere else.


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  1. Debbie Barnett says

    My nephew and grandson live with me. We are both on food stamps. My nephew doesn’t have a job and I’m a full time college student. My grandson receives free lunches through the school. Please let me know if the internet basics is available in Morton, or tell me how to apply.
    Thank you,

  2. jesenia feliz says

    im interesting in applying for the internent basic .for low income. please provide me with more information on how to go about . thanks.

  3. Paula HARNER says

    Hi I’m disabled and not good on the phone. I live in an a 55 and older park. Worked all my life and some lady hit me headon on my motorcycle. And I’m on EBT. I was reading about maybe getting an life alert and internet for free I am lower than the year wages thank you

  4. greg says

    Ah OK i called CenturyLink and Irene scouted out the number:

    ipad mini mf432ll/8

    Basically VERY old and small (16GB). Amazon only sells refurbs of that model and the iOS that ships on it is iOS 6. It appears to be a 1st generation device. Needless to say i did not obligate myself to pay $150, a required credit check AND a two year commitment for it;-) Perhaps amongst the other 2000 customers they can find some suckers to enrich CenturyLink

  5. greg says

    They (CenturyLink) offer an “iPad Mini” for $150 … but refuse to say what that is. Looking at the internet i can find various such for prices ranging from $100 to $759. Which one? To be in the program the documents appear to Require you to buy their modem to $100: w/o say why it is worth so much or what specs it has.

  6. kim says

    I And my seven year old daughter R on food stamps, section 8 housing and she is on the free lunch program at school and I do have a phone through the life line program. I live in North Carolina and am in need of a computer because I will be going through a court case for my daughter. How do I apply.
    I am also on disability.
    Please help on how I apply,
    Best regards,

  7. Thomas A Harrelson says

    me and my brother are on a fixed income of less than $20,000 per year,and my daughter also lives with us ,for a total yearly income of a household of three at less than 20 thousand per year ,i and my daughter receive food stamps,so im sure i (we) qualify for your service . i need to know how to apply and what website to fill out the necessary forms etc. thanks

  8. Jonathan Beyer says

    We are senior citizens and in need of high speed internet . Income below $25000 per. year. I need a phone number to call.