Are you in need of an internet connection and a hotspot device that can keep you connected at all times but are unable to afford such benefits? Well, you’ve come to the exact right place, as today, we’ll be uncovering the option of getting an ACP hotspot device free of charge. You will learn if you are eligible to receive it, how you can apply, and how you can receive and use this amazingly convenient gadget. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
What Exactly is a Hotspot Device and What is it Used for?
A hotspot device, also known as a mobile hotspot or portable hotspot, is a compact and portable gadget that provides internet connectivity to other devices by creating a local Wi-Fi network. These devices are equipped with built-in cellular modems or can use external data cards to access the internet through cellular networks, similar to how smartphones connect to mobile data.
Users can connect their smartphones, laptops, tablets, or other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the hotspot device, allowing them to access the internet even in locations without traditional wired broadband connections. Hotspot devices are especially useful when on the go, in areas with limited connectivity, or when traveling, providing a convenient and flexible way to establish a wireless internet connection.
Hotspots are commonly used for personal internet access but are also utilized by businesses to enable mobile connectivity for their employees or to provide temporary internet access at events and locations where a wired connection may not be feasible.
Can I Get an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
In case you have a relatively low income and struggle to afford basic necessities, chances are that you have heard about government assistance programs. Some offer discounts on food, medical services, housing, and more. One of the most recent assistance programs is the so-called Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which offers a discount of up to $30 a month (or up to $75 a month for eligible Tribal households) on broadband services and a one-time discount of up to $100 on internet-connected devices. While the monthly internet services are often completely free of charge (depending on the provider), according to government rules, each customer must pay a small fee of between $10 and $50 to receive some devices.
Each ACP provider (the wireless company that decided to participate in the ACP assistance program and through it, offer benefits to eligible low-income customers) has a slightly different offer. Moreover, each company’s offers also vary between states and the customer’s eligibility. Nonetheless, ACP providers do generally not offer ACP hotspot devices for free. Still, they do offer other mobile devices that have built-in features that allow them to be used as hotspot devices, such as smartphones and tablets (or in certain cases, laptops or desktop computers). Moreover, there are also a few companies that offer free hotspot devices directly. As such, the short answer to your question is certainly yes – you can get an ACP hotspot device free of charge (or for a small fee), whether it’s an original hotspot device or another mobile device that can be used as a hotspot device.
The Process of Receiving an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge
In order to receive an ACP hotspot device free of charge or for a small fee, you must become an ACP subscriber. In order to become one, you must follow these steps:
- Check whether or not you qualify for ACP. You can see the eligibility criteria in the next section.
- Make sure that you can prove your ACP eligibility with appropriate documentation.
- Apply for the ACP program through the National Verifier or your selected provider.
- Find an ACP provider that offers hotspot devices in your area and apply for its benefits.
- If approved, receive the device and enjoy its benefits.
In case any of these steps are unclear, don’t worry, as they are all explained in detail in the following sections.
Do I Qualify for an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
To receive an ACP hotspot device free of charge or for a small fee, you must qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). To qualify, you must:
- Meet the age requirement: You must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
- Meet the residency requirement: You must be a US citizen who resides in one of the states where your selected ACP provider operates.
- Be the only applicant in your household, as the ACP benefit is generally only available for one person per eligible household (although, you can apply for an exception).
- Meet one of the following requirements:
- Your annual household income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, which depend on the state and household size.
- Or you (or another member of your household) must participate in one of the following government assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program
- Federal Pell Grant
Can I Prove My Eligibility for an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
Acquiring an ACP hotspot device free of charge, whether it’s an original hotspot device, a smartphone, or a tablet, is a valuable opportunity. However, to prevent misuse by ineligible individuals, stringent eligibility verification is essential. Customers seeking ACP eligibility must substantiate their eligibility by furnishing copies of specific unexpired valid official documents that contain crucial information. Each category requires proof with one of the following documents:
- Identity Verification:
- A valid government, military, state, or Tribal ID
- Birth Certificate
- U.S. Driver’s license
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization
- Permanent Resident Card or Green Card
- Another official document with full legal name and date of birth
- Address Verification:
- Valid government, state, or Tribal ID
- Driver’s license
- Utility bill
- Mortgage or lease statement
- Most recent W-2 or tax return
- Another official document with full legal name and physical address
- Proof of Income (if eligibility is based on low income):
- Current income statement or paycheck stub
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Social Security statement of benefits
- Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
- Retirement/pension statement of benefits
- Divorce decree or child support award
- Another official document with full legal name and annual household income
- Proof of Participation in a Qualifying Government Assistance Program (if eligibility is based on program participation):
- Benefit award letter
- Approval letter
- Statement of benefits
- Benefit verification letter
- Another official document with full legal name, program name, government or Tribal entity name, program administrator, school, university, or college information
Additional requirements may include proof of life, Social Security Number, or proof of emancipation (for emancipated minors). Whether applying online or via mail, ensure to create clear digital or physical copies of the documents and refrain from submitting originals.
How Can I Apply for an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
There are typically three methods to apply for ACP in order to receive a government hotspot device: online through the National Verifier, via mail through the National Verifier, or directly through your chosen provider. Here’s a guide on how to apply online:
- Apply for ACP Online:
- Visit getinternet.gov/apply?id=acp&awsl=link-from-how-to-apply.
- Log in or create a new account if prompted.
- Complete the online ACP application form by providing the required information and documentation copies.
- Press ‘Next’ at the bottom of each page and ‘Submit’ at the end of the form.
- Apply for ACP via Mail:
- Print an ACP application at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf.
- Include a Household Worksheet from affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf. This step is optional but recommended.
- Fill out both forms and include copies of proof documentation.
- Send the package to ACP Support Center, PO Box 9100, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773.
- Apply Directly Through the Provider: Some Lifeline/ACP providers may require applying through National Verifier first, while others offer a streamlined application process directly through them. As such, it may be best to first apply through the National Verifier (either online or via mail by following the instructions above) and then additionally apply through your selected provider once you select which company you wish to receive benefits from.
How Can I Find an ACP Company That Offers an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
Each ACP company has a slightly different offer. As such, it’s vital to review each company’s offer and choose wisely. You can find an ACP company that offers hotspot devices in your area of residence at cnm.universalservice.org. Simply enter your location, choose the ACP program, and press Search. The system will create a list of all the ACP companies available in your area and even note which ones offer free devices. As a ‘free device’ generally refers to a smartphone or tablet, both of which can be used as hotspot devices, all the marked companies may offer exactly what you are looking for.
As most companies’ offers vary between states, you should also visit each provider’s official website, enter your ZIP code, and review exactly which benefits you can receive from them.
Which Companies Offer an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
You will receive a full list of all ACP companies operating in your area by following the instructions in the previous section. However, here are some of the most popular and reliable ACP companies that also offer hotspot devices (originals, smartphones, or tablets).
- The ACP companies that offer original hotspot devices are:
- ACPLifeline: This company offers ACP benefits that include unlimited monthly data and a free Wi-Fi hotspot or Android phone (depending on your preferences) to eligible applicants. You can find out more and apply at acplifeline.com.
- TruConnect: TruConnect is an amazing ACP company that also offers Lifeline benefits. Through these assistance programs qualifying clients can receive a MiFi hotspot device and connect up to 8 Wi-Fi enabled devices. Additionally, you can get a plan with 8GB of monthly data. Alternatively, you can choose to receive a smartphone or a tablet (or perhaps even both, if you qualify for ACP and Lifeline). You can find out more and apply at truconnect.com/hotspots.
- The ACP companies that offer both free phones and tablets are:
- AirTalk Wireless: AirTalk is a Lifeline and ACP company that offers free monthly talk minutes, text messages, and high-speed data. Additionally, qualifying clients can receive a free smartphone and a highly discounted tablet, both of which can be used as a hotspot device. You can get the best benefit if you qualify for both ACP and Lifeline. Learn more and enroll at airtalkwireless.com.
- Cintex Wireless: Cintex is AirTalk’s affiliate company, as such, it offers the same benefits to eligible customers – free monthly plans with talk minutes, text, and data, free smartphones, and discounted tablets. You can become a Cintex customer and receive all of these benefits if you qualify for Lifeline, ACP, or preferably, both. You can apply at cintexwireless.com.
- Easy Wireless: This is another amazing Lifeline and ACP provider that offers free monthly plans that come with free talk minutes, texts, and data. Moreover, customers can get a free phone and/or tablet, which can be used as hotspot devices. If you wish to find out more and enroll, visit myeasywireless.com.
- NewPhone Wireless: NewPhone is also AirTalk’s affiliate company, as such, it has the same offer and a similar application process. To receive free monthly minutes, texts, data, a phone and/or tablet, you should go to newphone.com, press Apply and follow the on-screen prompts.
- Q Link Wireless: Q Link Wireless generally offers free (discounted) tablets to eligible customers, however, certain customers under certain circumstances may also get a free phone. Both devices can act as hotspot devices, as such, it may not even matter which one you get. You will also receive a free plan with monthly talk minutes, texts, and data, as well as other perks. You can learn more and begin your application journey at qlinkwireless.com.
- StandUp Wireless: StandUp is another generous Lifeline and ACP provider that offers everything – a free monthly plan with free minutes, texts, and data, a free smartphone, and a discounted tablet. Again, all of these benefits are only available to customers who qualify for both Lifeline and ACP. Review and apply for these benefits by visiting standupwireless.com.
- The ACP companies that offer free phones include:
- Access Wireless
- American Assistance
- Assist Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- Infiniti Mobile
- Life Wireless
- SafeLink Wireless
- True Wireless
- The ACP companies that offer free tablets include:
- Excess Telecom
- Go Technology Management
- Human I-T
- Maxsip Telecom
- Moolah Wireless
- My Tablet ACP
- PCs for People
- Unity Wireless
- USA Phone
There may also be some other ACP companies that offer ACP hotspot devices, phones, or tablets in your area. You can check at cnm.universalservice.org/.
Additionally, certain wireless companies or cable internet providers, such as Comcast/Xfinity, may offer free cable modem rentals with ACP or even without it.
How Can I Use a Phone or Tablet as a Hotspot Device?
If you cannot get an original hotspot device from ACP, using a phone or tablet as a hotspot device is also a convenient way to share your mobile data connection with other devices. Moreover, unlike a hotspot device, phones and tablets also have many other features, apps, and options, as such getting and using a phone/tablet as a hotspot device may be even more convenient. Here’s a general guide on how to do it:
- For Android devices:
- Open the “Settings” app on your Android device.
- Select “Network & Internet”. Depending on your device, this option might be named differently.
- Tap “Hotspot & Tethering”. Look for an option related to hotspot or tethering. It might be under the “Connections” or “Wireless & Networks” section.
- Activate Mobile Hotspot. Enable the Mobile Hotspot or Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot option. You may need to configure the hotspot settings, such as the network name (SSID) and password.
- Connect other devices. Once the hotspot is active, other devices can connect to it by searching for available Wi-Fi networks and selecting yours. Enter the password if prompted.
- For iOS devices:
- Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Select “Personal Hotspot”. Look for the “Personal Hotspot” option. It’s usually under the “Cellular” or “Mobile Data” section.
- Activate Personal Hotspot. Turn on the Personal Hotspot toggle. You may need to set up the hotspot by entering a Wi-Fi password.
- Connect other devices. On the devices you want to connect, search for available Wi-Fi networks and select your iPhone or iPad’s hotspot. Enter the password if required.
- Important notes:
- The availability of hotspot features can vary based on your mobile carrier and plan. Some carriers may charge extra for hotspot functionality.
- Be mindful of your data usage, especially if you have limited data on your mobile plan.
- Keep your device plugged in or monitor battery usage, as using it as a hotspot can drain the battery quickly.
- The steps and options may vary slightly depending on your device model and operating system version.
Always refer to your device’s user manual or online support resources for specific instructions tailored to your device.
What Other Benefits Can I Expect to Receive in Addition to an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge?
As you can see from the description of the offers by the top ACP companies above, when you apply for an ACP benefit and if you get approved, you won’t only receive an ACP hotspot device free of charge. You will also receive a discount on monthly internet services in the form of a wireless plan that may include free monthly talk minutes, text messages, and data. You will receive a free SIM card and get to enjoy access to a nationwide network. You may also receive some other perks, such as caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, international calls, and/or other devices.
If I Cannot Get an ACP Hotspot Device Free of Charge, Are There Other Ways to Get a Free Hotspot Device?
If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for a free ACP hotspot device, there are alternative methods to obtain one:
- Seek assistance from charities or non-governmental organizations like Adaptive.Org, Causes, EveryoneOn, On It Foundation, Smartriverside, The Salvation Army, etc., to receive a free government hotspot device.
- Explore deals from carriers or retailers offering free hotspot devices, phones, and/or tablets (note: these deals may come with specific conditions).
- Consider obtaining a free phone or tablet by participating as a reviewer or marketing agent.
- Engage in online surveys, join programs like Amazon Vine, or enter giveaways to potentially receive a free phone or tablet.
- T-Mobile provides free hotspots and hotspot devices through Project 10Million. Details can be found at t-mobile.com/brand/project-10-million.