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Once a luxury, high-speed internet service has become a utility nearly as commonplace and essential in homes as power or water. As such, you can plan on fitting internet somewhere in your monthly budget, but just how much should you be allocating for it?
How much does internet cost per month?
The average internet bill in the U.S. is $64/mo. Most internet providers have plans starting around $40/mo., but that’s not usually what you’ll end up paying — taxes, fees and equipment costs typically add on around $15 more.
In some areas, internet plans can run much higher, up to $100/mo. or more for select plans. Add equipment, fees, installation and all the other necessities and the monthly cost of internet can add up quickly.
Internet costs broken down by internet type
As of 2020, the most expensive internet type was satellite internet and the least expensive was DSL. Although customers with DSL paid the least for their service, they also did not receive speeds as fast as they did with cable or fiber optic. DSL and satellite tend to be more popular in rural areas where cable and fiber aren’t yet available.
Top internet providers plans and pricing
|Provider||Starting monthly price*||Speed range|
|AT&T internet||$35.00||10 – 940 Mbps|
|CenturyLink internet||$50.00||10 – 940 Mbps|
|Cox internet||$19.99||25 – 940 Mbps|
|Frontier internet||$37.99||1 – 880 Mbps|
|HughesNet internet||$59.99||Up to 25 Mbps|
|Spectrum internet||$49.99||200 – 1000 Mbps|
|Verizon Fios internet||$39.99||200 – 940 Mbps|
|Xfinity internet||$19.99||25 – 2000 Mbps|
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 09/15/21.
What added fees do internet providers charge?
As with many services, the initial price you see for internet is not exactly what you can expect to pay. Fees will vary by provider, but some of the added costs that could inflate your bill include:
- Equipment rental – Modem and router rentals can add $10-$20/mo. to your internet bill. Some providers may include equipment at no extra cost, especially with their higher-tiered plans. Others may allow you to use your own compatible equipment to avoid paying the equipment rental fee.
- Installation/activation fees – Installation costs are thankfully one-time fees, but they can add $100 or more to the initial cost of internet. Many providers waive the installation fee for new customers, or offer self-installation at a reduced cost. In addition to the installation fee, an activation fee may also apply.
- FCC Universal Service Fund fee – The FCC charges internet providers a quarterly fee to help fund the expansion of broadband access to rural and low-income areas. Internet providers often pass these fees onto their customers. The fees typically aren’t much, around $5/mo. or less, but the exact fee will vary by provider.
- Late payment fee – Penalties for late payments vary state to state, but you could be charged a percent of your bill or a set fee of $20 or higher for late fees. And if your internet service is disconnected due to non-payment, you may be charged an additional fee to restore service.
- Cancelation fee – Terminating service before the end of your contract can levy high cancelation fees. Most internet providers prorate early termination fees depending on how many months are left on your contract and may charge hundreds of dollars for opting out of your service. Some providers, such as CenturyLink, Spectrum and Verizon do not require annual service agreements, so you don’t have to worry about early termination fees.
- Data overage fee – If your provider does not offer unlimited data, then you may run into charges for going over your monthly data allowance. Most providers charge $10 for every 50 GB you go over your data cap.
Even if your internet provider does not charge added monthly or one-time fees, regional and federal taxes will add to your monthly internet costs. Check out our guide to internet fees for more information about internet fees from specific providers.
Why does internet cost so much?
Equipment and installation: One of the main reasons for internet prices to run high is the cost of equipment and installation in new service areas. Fiber optic cables are expensive, so fiber optic internet providers may have higher prices to recoup the costs of installing new lines. Same goes for satellite internet — those satellites aren’t cheap. This is also why DSL internet, which uses existing phone lines to deliver service, is commonly one of the cheaper internet options.
Speed capabilities: The plan you choose also has a lot to do with how much you pay for internet. More often than not the faster a plan is, the more it will cost. Cable and fiber optic internet often give you the most speed choices, so these two service types will have some of the highest-priced plans, should you opt for faster speeds.
Hidden fees: Of course, as with any home service, you can expect fees and hidden costs to factor into your bill as well. Equipment rental fees, installation costs, Wi-Fi fees and data overages, if applicable, can inflate your monthly payment. Unfortunately, these fees often aren’t clearly stated in the advertised price, so it pays to do a little research before committing to a new internet service.
Lack of competition: One of the more frustrating reasons why internet often costs so much is because most internet providers don’t have any real competition in their areas. As a result, they have the ability to charge more than necessary. For instance, The ILSR reported in 2020 that at least 83.3 million Americans can only access broadband through a single provider.
Learn how the type of internet your home has can affect speed and reliability.
So how much should I be paying for internet?
Asking how much you should pay for high-speed internet is like asking how much you should pay for TV service. There’s no precise answer because it all depends on what you need.
For a basic internet package, you can expect average monthly costs around $60 or less. More robust internet packages (faster speeds, whole-home Wi-Fi, high data allowances), will likely range from $60 to $100/mo. And if your only option is satellite internet, then expect to pay over $100/mo.
How to lower your monthly internet bill
There isn’t one magic trick to lowering your internet bill, but there are a number of things you can try that can help save you money in the long-term. First, determining what your internet needs are and finding a plan that best fits them is the best way to keep from overpaying for internet. Additionally, it will also help you avoid getting stuck in a plan you’re not happy with.
Pick a plan that fits your needs
The simplest way to lower your internet bill is to downgrade the speed you’re getting. Knowing what you use the internet for and how many connected people/devices you have in your home will help you choose the plan that best fits your needs. As a rule of thumb, most people can get by with about 25 Mbps of download speed for each person in their household.
Activities such as streaming in HD, gaming online and uploading to social media will require faster speeds, especially if you plan to connect multiple devices. Take our internet speed test to get an idea of what speeds you currently are using or check out our guide to internet speeds.
Need more for the price?
Try these helpful hacks to improve your internet speed. Or if you just want more bang for your buck, check out providers near you with more speed for the price. Either way, we’ll help you find what you need.View providers near me
Rather chat? Give us a call: (844) 451-2720Rather chat? Give us a call: (844) 451-2720
Pro Tip: For best results, use an Ethernet cord to connect your router or modem directly to your device before you run the test.
Buy your own equipment
One of the easiest ways to save money on your internet bill is to buy your own modem and router. Equipment fees add around $10-20 to your bill every month, while you can typically buy your own for around $100. That means the equipment usually pays for itself in the first year. Plus, the equipment you purchase on your own is often higher quality than what your provider rents to you.
Check out the articles below for complete lists of modems and routers that work with each provider:
- Mediacom-compatible modems
- Windstream-compatible modems and routers
- Spectrum-compatible routers
- CenturyLink-compatible modems and routers
- Verizon-compatible routers
Look at hidden fees on your bill
If your internet bill is more than you’re expecting every month, it might be time to go over it with a fine-tooth comb. You might be accruing extra charges you didn’t know about.
Data overages are something many of us don’t think about until we’ve unknowingly gone over the limit and got hit with a $50 fee. Many providers impose data caps, usually around 1TB per month (which is actually a lot of data) but some may have much lower caps. Oftentimes, the data cap varies not just by provider, but also by plan.
If you’re getting hit with these fees, you can monitor your data usage to make sure you stay under it going forward, or opt for an unlimited data plan. AT&T, Frontier, Spectrum, Verizon FiOS and Xfinity all offer unlimited data options with most plans.
Take advantage of government subsidies
If you utilize a government program like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid or the free or reduced price school breakfast/lunch program, you are eligible to get $50/mo. off your internet bill through the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit. Anyone who lost their job since Feb. 29, 2020 or whose gross household income is at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines is also eligible. Additionally, Lifeline provides a monthly subsidy of $9.25 towards your internet or phone bill, and has the same eligibility requirements as the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
Negotiate your bill
Call your internet provider and see if you can get a lower rate. It won’t always get you a lower price, but it can’t hurt to ask. To help your cause, be firm in your request and come with knowledge about what other providers in your area are offering.
Switch internet providers
If you tried the steps above, and your bill is still higher than you want, your only remaining option is to move to another provider. Many providers offer incentives for new customers including promotional pricing, contract buyouts or free streaming subscriptions when you sign up. Do a thorough search of internet providers in your area to see how these options compare to your current bill. Remember, your new bill will likely end up being about $15 more after fees than what’s advertised — especially if you’re renting equipment.
In summary, get a plan that fits your needs and cut costs where you can
Which internet providers are available in your area plays a major role in how much you pay for internet, but you have control over which plans you pick and the extra costs you have to pay.
Choose a plan that best fits your speed requirements, then cut costs where you can by using your own equipment, keeping an eye on your data and re-evaluating your plan when your contract is up.
Rely on our internet experts for more tips on how to save on your internet costs, and to shop for the right internet plan for your home.
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Written by:David Anders
Senior Writer, Broadband Content
David joined the Allconnect team in 2017, specializing in broadband and TV content. His work has been referenced by a variety of sources, including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. As a Senior Writer, David is motivate… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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