Frequently asked questions
PHLConnectED is the City of Philadelphia’s program to connect Philadelphia families to a reliable, high-speed internet connection for school.
Eligibility and enrollment
What are the eligibility requirements for PHLConnectED?
To qualify for PHLConnectED, a family needs to live in Philadelphia and meet one of these criteria:
- K-12 household that currently does not have a home internet connection;
- K-12 household that only has internet access through mobile phones;
- K-12 household that is homeless, between housing, housing insecure, or living where a connection may not be possible; OR
- K-12 household whose student completes their remote learning in locations without internet access.
How do households get enrolled? How does a family find out if they qualify for PHLConnectED?
Households may receive a notification from their school to call their school directly to learn more about the program or to determine their eligibility.
School District, Charter School, and Independent Mission School households can also call the 211 hotline to determine eligibility and learn about possible next steps. The 211 Resource Navigator will walk households through a pre-screening process to determine whether households may be eligible for PHLConnectED and then provide the household with next steps.
How does a household know if they qualify for a wireline connection or a hotspot?
Students whose homes can have a wireline connection will receive one through Comcast’s Internet Essentials.
Students who are housing insecure or homeless, or who live in a home that cannot have a wireline connection will receive a T-Mobile hotspot.
If a household has a child who will be in kindergarten next year, can the household sign up now?
Yes, a household can sign up now. For more information, the family should dial 2-1-1 and press 1 for English or press 8 for Spanish and translation services.
I am in arears/in debt to Comcast. Can I enroll in PHLConnectED?
Yes. Debt to Comcast will not block a family’s ability to enroll in Internet Essentials through PHLConnectED. Comcast will not attempt to collect payments for previous debt on internet services while the family receives in PHLConnectED. This does not mean that Comcast will not engage in its standard credit and collections processes for other debts on cable or phone bills. If you are in arears/in debt to Comcast and you are eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials through PHLConnectED, please call the Internet Essentials Partnership Program hotline at 1-844-963-0178 to enroll. Do not complete the web-based application.
What public benefits qualify you to participate in PHLConnectED?
If you or anyone in your K-12 household is using or has used any of the following benefits in the last 6 months, your K-12 household is eligible for PHLConnectED:
- Public housing assistance/PHL Rental Assist
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Head Start
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
You do not need to submit any documentation to show that you use these benefits.
How does someone receive special education services? Does that mean any student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?
If your child attends a non-public school, contact your child’s principal to learn more.
If your child attends a District or Charter school, then your child receives special education support and services if they have an IEP that details specially designed instruction for your child. If your child has a disability but not an IEP, they may have a 504 Plan, which provides accommodations for your child.
If you’re still not sure if your child receives special education services or has a 504 Plan, please contact your child’s teacher/school.
How are students designated as English Learners?
If your child attends a non-public, contact your child’s principal to learn more.
If your child attends a District or Charter School and is an English Learner, your family will receive an Annual Notification letter that will confirm your child is an English Learner and receives English as a Second Language (ESL) services. If you are still not sure if your child receives ESL services, please contact your child’s teacher/school.
I now qualify, but I already have internet access, I would like to transition to PHLConnectED. How can I do that?
Your transition from your current Internet Service Provider depends on which provider you have and what type of plan you have. Dial 2-1-1 and press 1 for English or press 8 for Spanish to learn more about eligibility and if you qualify. The 211 hotline can also help you further understand the information below.
If you have Internet Essentials and you’re eligible, you’ll be given a promo code that will be applied to your current Comcast account so that you can join PHLConnectED.
If you have Comcast Xfinity and you’re eligible, you’ll be given a promo code that will be applied to your account so that you can join PHLConnectED. If you have a bundle with other Comcast services (e.g. TV, phone, home security), you will have to select new services. In some cases, removing your Xfinity internet service may result in a higher cost for your other services. Any new costs or fees are the account holder’s responsibility. You will also have lower internet speeds with IE at 25 megabits per second down, 5 megabits per second up.
If you have any other plan and you’re eligible, you can be given an enrollment code for Internet Essentials to enroll in the program. You may have to cancel your existing internet service, which could result in cancellation fees. Any new costs or fees are the account holder’s responsibility. If you have bundled services (e.g. TV, phone), you may have to select new services. If you enroll in IE, you will have lower internet speeds of 25 megabits per second down, 5 megabits per second up.
When will the service date end for the newly eligible?
The expanded eligibility criteria are permanent criteria. The program serves K-12 households that do not have wireline internet access and now also serves K-12 households that currently have internet access but may not be able to afford it in the future. These households will continue to be eligible throughout the program.
I am now eligible. Will my school network be notified?
The program’s partner schools (School District of Philadelphia, select Charter Schools, and Independence Mission Schools) have been notified of the expanded eligibility criteria.
If you’d like to enroll in PHLConnectED, you can contact your school or dial 2-1-1 and press 1 for English or press 8 for Spanish and translation services.
What happens when families call 2-1-1?
The 211 hotline can provide families with general information about PHLConnectED. The 211 Resource Navigators also complete pre-screens to see if a family qualifies for the program. If the family qualifies, the 211 Resource Navigator will transfer the family to the child’s specific school resource.
Once connected, the school will confirm if the family qualifies. If the family qualifies, the school will provide the household with one of the following:
- An enrollment code for Comcast’s wired, in-home Internet Essentials. Households will get clear instructions on how to connect with Comcast.
- A T-Mobile hotspot solution, including instructions for how to get the device.
What information does a household need to have ready when calling the 211 hotline to determine if they are eligible for the program?
The household should have the below information ready:
- Student first and last name
- Address on record with school
- Phone number
If there is more than one child in a household, the household should have the information of the oldest child ready; or if a household has more than one child and only one is part of the School District, the household should use the School District record.
How long will eligible families have internet access?
Eligible families will be able to have internet access through June 30th, 2022. To keep access, they must stay residents of Philadelphia and have a child/children in the K-12 system.
Will the internet connection contain content filtering?
Families who enroll in Internet Essentials from Comcast can download the xFi app at no cost and use Parental Controls to help protect their kids from inappropriate content. Through xFi, a household can also set screen time limits and pause WiFi connectivity once a child has reached their daily limit. The City is working with Comcast to prepare specific instructions on content filtering in many languages.
There is no content filtering for the T-Mobile hotspots. No filtering assures that students will not have any issues accessing the schools’ learning management systems. Schools can apply their own filtering systems and will instruct the households on the filtering to use.
My child received an enrollment code for Comcast Internet Essentials (wired, in-home internet), but I’d prefer a hotspot instead. Can I switch?
Hotspots are prioritized for students who are homeless or are housing insecure, or for households that Comcast cannot serve. If you believe that a hotspot would be a better option for your student or family, call the 211 hotline. A 211 Resource Navigator can help you connect to the School District or participating school to determine if the hotspot is the right option for you.
My child received a T-Mobile hotspot, but I’d prefer Comcast’s Internet Essentials (wired, in-home internet) instead. Can I switch?
If you received a hotspot but believe Internet Essentials would be a better option for family, you should dial 2-1-1 to determine if you qualify. If they determine that you can gain internet access through Internet Essentials, you will be asked to return your hotspot to your school and then will get an enrollment code for Internet Essentials.
I have setup or other technical issues with my T-Mobile hotspot or with Comcast Internet Essentials. What should I do to get it fixed?
For hotspot technical issues, households should call T-Mobile at 1-844-341-4834. You will need the hotspot SIM card number on hand when contacting T-Mobile technical support.
For issues with Comcast’s Internet Essentials, households should call Comcast at 1-800-XFINITY (1-800-934-6489).