High inflation leaves Americans struggling to pay for internet, survey shows

Camryn Smith

Sep 29, 2023 — 2 min read

Amid high inflation, Americans are struggling to pay for their internet service – but would still pay more for faster internet speeds.

woman with baby on computer

A U.S. News and World Report survey of over 3,500 U.S. adults sheds light on the rising cost of internet in a time when internet service is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.  

The survey respondents are U.S. adults subscribing to home internet services, with a vast majority being customers of top ISPs such as Xfinity, Spectrum, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile

Over half of the survey respondents (53%) claimed they paid between $20 and $60/mo. for their internet when they first signed up. 48% now say the price has risen to between $41 and $80/mo. for service from the same ISP they started with. 

Inflation has caused an increase in prices across different industries, and while internet prices haven’t risen as severely as other necessary utilities, its impact is clear on customers’ monthly budgets. 

Most survey respondents (61%) said inflation’s overall impact on the cost of other essential expenses, like groceries, made it difficult to pay their monthly internet bill. 39% had to cut other expenses in order to pay for their internet. 

However, this increase in internet price is not reflected in speed. At least 8% of survey respondents are not getting at least 25 Mbps of download speed – the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) minimum broadband speed standard. This means that 1 in 10 households doesn’t actually have broadband internet service. 

Despite the higher costs, 28% of survey respondents are unsatisfied with the internet speed they get for the price they pay, and 27% are unsure if their speed is worth the amount they pay each month. 

This is a common problem amongst internet customers; many ISPs advertise faster speeds than they deliver.

Today, internet service has become a utility as necessary as any other. Even the FCC proposed reclassifying internet service providers as “essential telecommunications entities” amid plans to reinstate net neutrality laws.

The importance of internet is not lost on survey respondents – 62% claimed they would pay even more for faster internet service, with 45% willing to pay $5 – $10 more per month and 17% willing to pay up to $11 to $20 more per month.

How you can save on internet

In light of the percentage of respondents struggling to pay for their internet service, this speaks to the importance of an internet connection in today’s digital world. 

If you want to save on internet, you have a few options. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers eligible customers $30/mo. toward their monthly internet bill and up to $75/mo. for those on qualifying Tribal lands. With many providers participating in the ACP and offering plans for $30/mo. or less, you could get your internet for free. 

Some providers offer cheap internet plans. Mediacom offers its 100 Mbps plan for $19.99/mo. And Xfinity has a 200 Mbps plan for $25/mo. 

See Allconnect’s low-income guide for other available programs.

Find more broadband news and studies on trends in the industry on Allconnect’s news hub and research hub.

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Camryn Smith

Written by:

Camryn Smith

Cammy is a writer with Allconnect, growing her broadband industry knowledge for over a year on the internet marketplace. Her expertise lies in home internet and broadband service with a focus on providers, plans… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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