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Consumer alert: AT&T phasing out low-income internet program

AT&T is phasing out its Access program after four years of offering discounted high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi service to eligible consumers.

AT&T will no longer be taking Access applications after April 2020. However, people who sign up between now and April 2020 are still eligible for a year of Access benefits. For example, if you sign up for Access on March 15, 2020, you will receive the discount until March 2021.

The Access program was a condition of AT&T’s $67.1 billion acquisition of DirecTV in July 2015. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required AT&T to offer discounted broadband services for four years after the acquisition. 

Access, which launched in April 2016, offers either 150 gigabytes or 1 terabyte of data per month for $5 to $10 per month.

To qualify, the household must be located in AT&T’s service area and at least one resident of the home must be enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Additionally, you cannot have outstanding debt owed to AT&T for Internet service.

It is free to apply. Visit AT&T Access website or call 1-855-220-5211. For assistance in Spanish, call 1-855-220-5225.

“It is disappointing to see how AT&T is systematically eliminating all the programs available to low-income customers,” said Annie Warnock, CUB’s Bilingual Consumer Rights Specialist. “First it was Lifeline, now the company is taking steps to remove the Access program. With Access, many low-income customers were able to afford Internet service. So many families in Illinois rely on programs like Access. In today’s world, the Internet is a necessity. Let us hope other companies do not follow AT&T’s lead.”

Similar low-income programs are available through other companies, such as Spectrum, Comcast, and the federal Lifeline program. Visit our recently-updated factsheet to learn more about these programs.