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.



  1. magdalena Hernandez says

    i dont know where to register to qualify for cheap internet…I live in a low income bracket, i keep clicking on your pages, but it seems just to open another window and its taking me around in circles…..please guide me thru your registration form…

  2. bill says

    By law Corporations are people too. They pay little to no taxes, cant serve jury duty, cant serve jail time, but they can afford to pay fractions of there profits in fines while all along i contemplate suicide in order to end it and move on.

  3. bill says

    Yeah i have read your comments and cant stop to think how the system is rigged, california is not stated on this website to be eligible, but one night on late night tv i seen an informative commercial on low cost internet here in california. In fact latin actor Edward James Olmos was on this commercial on a spanish speaking channel here in Los Angeles. So it cought my eye and come to find out were not eligible according to this site, wasteful spending on a commercial. Did you know that the Internet Service Providers (ISP) keep such programs under wraps in order fullfill contract obligations with We the People of these united states of america. 1996 Telecommunications Act gave these organized criminals huge tax breaks to this date, and get away with it with the common excuse of TO BIG TO FAIL campaingns. Take back what is ours We the People of these united states of america. NET NEUTRALITY FOR ALL. FIRE Fcc Chairman Mrs. WHEELER, he serves not the people but his private companies constituents who are also recognized as PEOPLE by law and dont pay taxes but shame does who are given bread crumbs in comparison to this Corporate Fat Cats. Elizabeth Warren for President, Senate democrat for Massachusetts. Want a real woman or President with answers, look pass Hilary Clinton andnominate the honorable Senator Elizabeth Warren for President in 2016. Thank you for re adding my rant.

  4. Heather says

    I have checked SEVERAL of these amazing services. Unfortunately, NONE of them are available in my area!! :-(
    How can I find out if they will be available??
    Thank You!!

  5. Bonnie Turner says

    I understand where Helen is coming from. I have been in and out of the welfare office in PA as I am disabled (physically) and my daughter is developmentally disabled. I look around while standing in line at a lot of the people and see the nice clothes and shoes, the painted nails, the fancy hairdos, the fancy cell phone – and the number of children they have. I also see a lot of people step outside to smoke – if you can afford cigarettes and a fancy cell phone, what are you doing at the welfare office. I have slowly been learning how to work the system. When I first had to apply for several programs for my daughter and later for me, I was very honest and forthcoming in filling out the applications. I had a rude awakening when I got turned down for some programs that I actually qualified for but got confused with the questions. The bad thing for me is that I had to “spend down” my emergency fund and any other savings I had. The other thing for me that I absolutely hated was the attitude of a lot of the employees – they make you feel awful and discouraged. (There is another word I wanted to put in here but I can’t think of it now – I often can’t bring forth the words that I need these days, which is really frustrating). I can’t help but think, if I get confused and don’t understand what they are asking of me how do others who aren’t as well educated as I am get through the system. I don’t mean this as a put-down of others who didn’t have the opportunities that I had. It wasn’t easy but I graduated from college and got a master’s degree. The master’s was when my husband was also in graduate school, I had one child and gave birth to a second child and was working full time. There is no way that I could do that now with the physical limitations I have.
    Reading through the comments on here to glean as much information as I can on the free or low-cost phone and internet, I’m not sure if these programs work and which one is the best plan for me. I have had Comcast bundled but it is just going up and up in price and I really must get the costs down. I am also a bit dismayed to find out that Comcast does have some low-cost programs which I was never told about even though I asked a number of times. I guess I just didn’t have the correct words to ask.

  6. diana szurek says

    I thought this was meant to help people that can,t afford high internet bills but from what I,ve read to be locked into 2 year contract and if you lose job ,unemployment whatever you get stuck with huge bill you can,t pay this turns out to be a scam an pack of shit to entise an hurt poor people more so disappointed we all thought our adult lives would turn out better than this ashamed of how this country is greedy politicians an banks wiping out our country Obama,s law takes affect july 1st all disability,ssi food stamps everything stop coming were going down and we put them there god protect us all it,s coming our country our people protect us all dear lord amen

  7. says

    Small businesses do not make much when you live in a rural area like me, this week I only made less than 200 dollars, that is not rich, and I am not trying to be rude by giving people tips, its just that the guy on here that was criticizing someone about their disability really got to me, what type of person does that? I tend to get bipolar too and I have chronic back and side pain/arthritis, so mobility is difficult for me as well. I also would like to say that here in CA getting a job is just as hard as anywhere else. I did not know that the president got 32 million dollars from someone and stuck it in a Swiss bank, what, Obama did this, I am not sure if that is correct. And the people on here thinking someone is trying to scam someone else need to stop doing that, this is not a place to be attacking other people.

  8. gimmeabreak says

    CenturyLink is a JOKE. Website not working correctly, so I called. Got transferred multiple times, finally got somebody who would actually talk to me. All of that trouble to find out my area, which is a major f***ing city, is not covered. So no low cost broadband for me because: no kids AND not in the coverage area for the programs that dont require households with a bunch of welfare brats crawling around.

    This website is so helpful…..

  9. Terry says

    When I posted here earlier today that Century Link is not available in California, I based that on the Century Link map at . I just now searched online under the Century Link name to see if any other relevant information would come up, and it appears that they may have some offerings in California. However, their web site is not recognizing the zip code. I entered several other zip codes to see what would happen, and none are recognized. So again, that leads me to believe that they do not service this state.

  10. Susie says

    Hi I would like someone to help me.(I can’t read very good) I have a good cell phone but need cell phone service. I was with verizon but to high $200.. If you can help tell me about cell phone service, internet, & dish. And if verizon would have anything too. I am Disabled & low income family. Can you tell where I can get a cheap laptop too. Thank You!

  11. Chylene Ramsey says

    Helen, do your clients a favor, and retire. You’re totally burned out. I was forced into resigning from the Postal Service, because I have bi-polar disorder, and I hate running into social workers like you who think I am scamming the system when I have done everything I can to get empluyed and retrained and have had no luck. I aced every test they ever gave me at those government “rehab” prgrams, and then they’d tell me I was “too unstable” to go through their prgrams. “I worked 18 years, served in two branced of the military and got 4 college degrees before I was ever diagnosed.” I told them. “So, how do you figure I’m ‘too unstable’ to learn how to type and fil out job applications?” They couldn’t answer. And YOU go try applying for the big scam that is SSI. My own money that I paid all my life into–I worked before the PO and had earned my full quarters–and I had to wait 1 1/2 while they messed around. The last interview, the guy gave me a fishy look and said he couldn’t see why I couldn’t work SOME kind of job. I told him, “Fine, mister. You get on that phone, you call someone who’s willing to hire a 45-year-old manic depressive, and ‘ll go right over and start working for ‘em right now. If you can’t, then shut the hell up and give me MY money.” He did. You know how much it was a month? $600. You try living on $600 a month if you think it’s some big scam to rip off the government when you got a president who’s got 32 million bucks socked away in a Swiss bank account that he’s ripped off people like me. I’ve been working on getting myself independent since I learned about e-commerce with an old laptop my ex gave me, and internet fees are about to devastate me. I am VERY grateful for ANY kind of break I can get on them. I want to be independent and earning my own way again; the government sure as hell didn’t give a flying f–k up to now.

  12. george kilton says

    This program looks like it is exactly what i’m looking for, BUT IT IS NOT OFFERED IN RHODE ISLAND!!!!! What gives?
    I also notice that it is not offered any where in New England!!!!! WHY NOT?

  13. aaron says

    My wife and I receive food stamps. She is also 19 and returned to high school to receive her diploma. We also qualify for the free lunch program. Most of her schooling is online so requires internet. Would we qualify for one of these services? If so how would we go about signing up?

  14. Bilbo says

    So. I just wanted to comment that this program seems like it could work for a minority of people CL serves. As far as people coming for and deciding who is and isn’t disabled I wonder when they decided that so called abusers weren’t working stiffs? How exactly does having I-phone, nails, and colored hair qualify any of that which you speak of, as disabled? You seem to think because of these superficial qualifications you made up that people arn’t working and have abused the system . Please realize if you don’t have a medical license or even if you do, you can’t actually see anyones health history on their phone, nails, or hair color. It seems your are jealous and likely work in social services field, like myself, and become undone by being taken advantage of by the state or nonprofit /corp for whom you work. This is something that is systematic and turn people against others in effort to make “abusers” pay by taking away services. Something to think about is that every tax paper has given to these services and deciding “to much abuse” is happening doesn’t mean those tax dollars come back to you. I will

  15. Elaine says

    With all these programs and still nothing for the low income that don’t live in a city. I live in the country and can’t find a single provider to help me out. I would have to get internet through a dish or get a land line and hope for cheap dial up which would get costly to get a land line. I have 5 kids all in school and I am disabled on a fixed income. I receive food share and medical. But still no help for me. And every year the kids are to do research from a computer which means a trip into town to wait in line to get on the small library computer.


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