How to get free or reduced-cost internet service through new temporary federal program

Consumer Reports reveals who's eligible and offers tips that everyone can use to pay less for broadband service
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- How does free or reduced-cost internet service sound? Thanks to a new temporary federal program, millions of Americans could qualify.

Consumer Reports reveals who's eligible and offers tips that everyone can use to pay less for broadband service.

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You are eligible if you've lost your job or been furloughed, have an income less than or equal to 135% of federal poverty guidelines, use assistance programs including SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline, or you're a current Pell Grant recipient.

And those who qualify can also get a one-time discount of up to $100 on a laptop, desktop, or tablet.

First, check the website of the Federal Communications Commission to see if your internet provider participates in the program. There are three ways to apply:

- Contact your provider to learn about its application process

- Apply online at GetEmergencyBroadband.org

- Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application

And if you're not eligible, Consumer Reports says there are still ways to save on your bill.

Buying your own modem or router instead of renting one from an internet company can help save you money in the long run. Just make sure the modem is compatible with your ISP - that's something you can often find out on the provider's website.

CR says another way to save is to ask your provider for a discount. Sometimes that's all it may take.

Calling on a weekday could also connect you with higher-level reps with better discounts that might be available.

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