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Cheap Internet Plans

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Cheap Internet Plans

Other Available Internet Types

Best Cheap Internet Providers

There are dozens of internet service providers (ISPs) operating across the US, from telecoms giants to small local providers. And when you move to a new area, you might find a whole new market of ISPs.

Remember that internet providers in the US are highly regionalized so not every ISP on this list will operate in your city or state. Prices will also vary depending on your region. Our site can help you find a customized list of providers available in your area. But the following have national presences and are good bets for affordable, reliable internet connections.

AT&T

AT&T rovides speedy, affordable DSL and fiber plans to 150 million customers across 21 states

Verizon

Verizon offers both fiber and DSL plans. They also offers stand-alone internet packages (not bundled with TV) without contracts

Xfinity

Xfinity has compelling options at both ends of the market - from entry-level DSL packages to some of the fastest fiber in the country

Finding Cheap Internet Deals

You don’t have to break the bank to find the internet deal suited to your household and its web-surfing, TV-watching, Netflix-streaming needs. Here’s how to limit your costs and prioritize what matters to you.

In some markets and from some providers, internet connections with data caps are common. This means the amount of data you download will be subject to a monthly limit. Depending on your provider and the package you choose, this can range from just 30GB to 6000GB. Choosing a package with a lower data cap can save you money on your bills but it might cramp your internet style.

If you’re regularly streaming HD content and playing video games over your internet connection, you’ll want a very generous data allowance or even a package sold without a data cap. Going over your data cap can be costly. You’ll either incur fees or need to purchase additional data ‘a la carte,’ usually in bundles of 10GB. That all means extra charges on your monthly internet bill. Data caps will be a particular concern if you’re ‘cutting the cord’ and relying on streaming services rather than cable TV.

Download speed means the amount of data your connection can receive in a single second, represented as megabits or gigabits per second. It’s also described as bandwidth. DSL connections typically offer speeds from 5 to 35Mbps. Cable connections deliver download speeds between 10 and 500Mbps. Fiber packages usually range from 250 to 1000Mbps, or 1Gbps.

To a certain extent, you’ll be limited by the technology available in your area and to your home. Fiber is only available to around 25% of all households. Usually, slower packages are cheaper so you’ll save money if you’re content to travel in the internet slow lane. But most modern households will want a faster connection.

You’ll need more internet speed to comfortably stream video content and game online. You also need to consider the number of internet users in your households: everyone and their laptop and tablet have to share your bandwidth between them. That means that unless you spring for a faster package, you might not be able to load Steam while your wife is watching Hulu.

You can hardly purchase an internet plan these days without being pitched a cable TV deal along with it. In most cases, bundling your internet and your TV will be economical and convenient. You’ll save money and will only need to deal with one bill, one provider, and one contract. These bundles will then come with a TV box that allows you to pause, record and store live TV and gives you access to on-demand titles and apps like Netflix and Pandora. Some people can save money, however, by just taking an internet-only package and using streaming services instead.

You need two pieces of equipment to broadcast a WiFi network and use your internet at home: a modem and a router. A modem plugs into a phone jack in your wall and translates the internet signal so it can be used by your devices, including your router. The router connects to the modem with an ethernet cable and beams a WiFi network around your house.

Many internet service providers give you a modem and router for a fee on your monthly bill, usually around $10. In effect, you are renting the equipment from them for the duration of your contract. This cost can add up over the months and years and you might save money by buying your modem and router independently.

You can get higher spec equipment that way and switch providers more easily, but you’ll have to handle the installation yourself and won’t get any tech support from your ISP for your equipment.

Get Cheap Internet: Could You Save With Bundle Deal?

When you buy an internet plan, your provider may well offer to add landline calling and cable TV packages on top. Buying your internet, phone, and cable TV together will not only streamline your home entertainment, giving you one provider and one bill, but it will also save you money.

Internet speed

Internet speed

How fast are download speeds on the connection?

Internet technology

Internet technology

Is the connection DSL, cable, fiber, or satellite? Which are available in your area and which deliver the best speeds locally?

Data caps

Data caps

Does the connection come with data caps or not?

TV channels

TV channels

How many TV channels does the service include? Do they include your favorites?

Set-top-box

Set-top-box

Can you pause, rewind, and record live TV? How many hours of recorded TV can you store? Are streaming apps integrated into the menus? Is the remote voice-controlled?

Price

Price

Internet bundles range from the affordable to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. But not everyone needs several hundred channels and gigabit-capable fiber.

Should I Buy Standalone Internet?

Should I Buy Standalone Internet?

If you want cable TV, it makes sense to buy it in a bundle with your internet. But increasingly consumers, particularly in younger generations, are ‘cutting the cord,’ ditching cable and relying on streaming services instead. But you might not necessarily save money by signing up for a bevy of streaming services rather than cable and you need to ensure you have sufficient internet speed—usually 50Mbps+—so you stream all the content you want without buffering.

Fast Vs Cheap Internet

The cheapest internet connections will be DSL packages with slower speeds. However, they might not be suitable for your household, particularly if it’s full of busy internet users. The cheapest internet connection isn’t a bargain if it prevents you from doing what you want on the internet or prompts family fights about bandwidth.

How much speed do I really need?

To determine how fast your internet should be, consider your activities online.

  • Casual internet user, checking email and browsing webpages: 1-10Mbps
  • Moderate internet user, surfing the web and occasionally watching HD content: 25-50Mbps
  • Binge-watcher and cord cutter, watching Netflix frequently, using the internet in place of a TV: 50-100Mbps
  • Busy household of internet users, with multiple people streaming content and surfing the web simultaneously: 100-200Mbps
  • Heavy internet user and gamer, playing online games, downloading large files: 200+ Mbps

What about upload speed?

The headline speed for home internet connections will be the download speed. This reflects the way most of us use the internet: loading pages, streaming content, downloading files.

However, if you need to upload content, such as to a remote server for work, or if you game online, you’ll likely be concerned about your connection’s upload speed, how much data it can send in a single second. Most internet connections are asymmetric, which means they have much faster download than upload speeds. The exception is fiber connections which are often symmetric.

You can typically find the upload speed in advertising for internet plans, although it won’t be as prominent as the download speed.

These benchmarks of the upload speed of various internet technologies can help:

  • Casual internet user, checking email and browsing webpages: 1-10Mbps
  • Moderate internet user, surfing the web and occasionally watching HD content: 25-50Mbps
  • Binge-watcher and cord cutter, watching Netflix frequently, using the internet in place of a TV: 50-100Mbps
  • Busy household of internet users, with multiple people streaming content and surfing the web simultaneously: 100-200Mbps
  • Heavy internet user and gamer, playing online games, downloading large files: 200+ Mbps

Low-Income Customer Discount Programs

Pretty much everyone needs an internet connection, but not everybody can afford it. Thankfully there are various programs run by the federal government and some suppliers aimed at helping lower income households get online for less.

Lifeline

Lifeline is a program run by Federal Communication Commission (FCC), giving eligible households a discount on either their internet or phone bill. Your household is eligible if you or someone living there participates in a federal assistance program, including:

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
Details and benefits
Lifeline

Provider-run Discount Programs

AT&T Access

AT&T offers internet of up to 10Mbps for $5-10 a month, with no installation or deposit, for some qualifying households. To be eligible, households must have at least one member who participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and be in one of the 21 states covered by AT&T’s wireline internet service

Cox Connect2Compete

Cox offers low-cost internet with speeds up to 15Mbps for $9.95 a month, with no annual contracts or deposits and a free WiFi modem. To qualify, participants must have at least one student in grades K through 12 living in their home and participate in either the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Public Housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Mediacom Connect2Compete

Mediacom offers low-cost internet with speeds up to 10Mbps for $9.95 a month, with no data caps, no contract, no equipment rental fees, and no installation cost. To qualify, households must have at least one school-age (K to 12) student living at home and receiving free or reduced-cost school meals through the NSLP

Spectrum Internet Access

Spectrum’s discount internet plan delivers speeds of up to 30Mbps, with no data caps, for $14.99 a month. Home WiFi is an extra $5 a month. To qualify, households must have at least one member participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP, or receiving Supplemental Security Income

Xfinity Internet Essentials

Xfinity’s program offers internet of up to 15Mbps for $9.95 a month, with no contract or installation fee. It’s available to households if they have a child in the National School Lunch Program, receive HUD housing assistance, or have a low-income veteran or senior. Community college students in Illinois and Colorado can also qualify

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Mobile Internet: A Cheaper Alternative?

Most of us go online using our cellphones every day. You can harness that network to deliver internet in your home too, using a dongle or personal wi-fi hotspot. But is it the right option for you?

Advantages Of Mobile Internet

Don’t need a home internet connection

Don’t need a home internet connection

Can buy a mobile internet plan from your cellphone provider, often in a bundle for a discount

Can buy a mobile internet plan from your cellphone provider, often in a bundle for a discount

Can access the internet wherever you go, provided you have decent cell signal

Can access the internet wherever you go, provided you have decent cell signal

Disadvantages Of Mobile Internet

Need a device, such as dongle or personal WiFi hotspot

Need a device, such as dongle or personal WiFi hotspot

Data caps will be stricter than with home internet connections and you probably won’t be able to stream video or game online

Data caps will be stricter than with home internet connections and you probably won’t be able to stream video or game online

Often an expensive way to access the internet

Often an expensive way to access the internet

Frequently Asked Questions

Increasing numbers of Americans are ditching cable TV and relying on streaming services instead. This is particularly true of younger people, who are glued to their devices anyway and prefer binge-watching whole seasons of shows rather than flipping through channels. You can also cut the cord and continue to watch shows and even live TV through your television set using devices like Sling.

But before you ditch cable, it’s a good idea to make a list of the shows you don’t want to miss and find them on streaming services. Total the amount you’ll need to spend monthly on Netflix, Prime, Hulu, and other services and see how that compares to your cable bill. It might not be cheaper to ditch cable and you might end up missing out on some of your favorite content.

Many internet providers will give you the option of renting a modem and router from them. This will typically add around $10 to your monthly bill, which can add up over the years. In some cases, it might make sense to buy a modem and router independently and use them instead. You’ll need to lay down between $80 and $150 upfront but will save money overall and likely get higher performance gear. However, you’ll be responsible for setting up the equipment and won’t be able to turn to your ISP for assistance with it. So make sure you’re comfortable with the technology before going it on your own.

Xfinity advertises the fastest internet speed in the US: 2,000Mbps or 2Gbps. It’s very pricy and only available in select areas.

Our site can direct you to the fastest internet available in your area. Remember too that not everyone needs the speediest connection and that most households will be content with a comfortably paced and affordable mid-range internet plan. According to the FCC’s Household Broadband Guide, 100Mbps is sufficient for a household of four people doing data-intensive tasks like video calling and streaming HD video. Bigger households and gamers might want more speed.

If you’re looking for a new internet connection and don’t know how much speed you need, a good place to start is your existing internet connection. You’re probably using it to view this page right now.

Consider how well it performs. Does it stream Amazon Prime without buffering or pausing, even in the evenings when all your neighbors are also logging on? Does it allow you to navigate the web effortlessly or do you find yourself waiting for pages to load? Does your connection support gaming or do your shots go astray? If it’s meeting your needs, look for a connection with similar speed, perhaps for a cheaper price from another provider. If it’s not up to scratch, spring for a faster plan.

To find the exact amount of speed you’re clocking, use an internet speed checker. Be aware that the speed you're actually getting may not match what was initially advertised by your ISP, due to distance from the ISP’s local office or traffic on the network, particularly during peak hours.

Latency, also called ping, is the amount of time it takes a packet of data to travel through a network to a third party server and back. It’s the lag on a connection and another spec to consider along with speed when considering a type of internet.

High latency isn’t noticeable when you’re streaming content or loading webpages, but it can make video calling and online gaming unusable. DSL connections have higher latency than cable connections, but fiber, if it’s available to your home, performs the best.

First things first: if you’re currently in a contract with your internet provider, you’ll likely face hefty termination fees for exiting it early. So don’t jump ship unless you’re willing to pay those fees or you’re signed up to a no-contract plan.

If you’re ready to find a new plan, however, begin the search. Compare internet deals, making note of their speed, data caps, TV bundling options, contract length, the provider’s customer service, and price. When you’ve chosen one, order it and schedule an installation date. You’ll probably want to make sure it’s up and running before you cancel your other service or you could find yourself without internet and TV for days or weeks.

Under FCC regulations, if you’re switching internet providers and remaining in the same geographic area, you must be allowed to keep your existing phone number. Your phone number will be transferred to the new service through a process called porting. To arrange this, provide your 10-digit phone number (including area code) to your new provider. Be aware that some providers may charge you a fee to port your number.