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The hidden internet fees you really pay with each provider

Joe Supan

Jun 28, 2023 — 9 min read

Don’t get caught by surprise. Check out our provider guide to understand the true cost of your internet bill.


Key findings

  • 8 of the top 12 internet providers charge a fee for equipment, for an average of $12/mo.
  • Miscellaneous fees cost between $2.49 and $9.95/mo., according to an analysis by Consumer Reports.
  • 9 out of 12 providers don’t have any data caps. Those that do all charge $10 for each 50GB that you exceed the cap.

When you sign up for new internet service, you need to be careful — hidden fees can add hundreds of dollars to your bill. From modem and router rental charges to early internet cancellation fees, we’ve outlined exactly what these expenses are for each provider.

Summary of internet provider fees


AT&T internet fees and costs

  • AT&T modem and router rental fee AT&T internet plans include a Wi-Fi Gateway (modem-router combo) at no extra cost.
  • Data limit and usage fees — AT&T has a 1TB data limit per month on some of its DSL plans. but most plans come with unlimited data. If you go over your data limit, you have the option to pay an additional $30/mo. for unlimited data or $10 per additional 50GB.
  • Late payment and reactivation fees — Expect to pay an AT&T late payment fee of up to $10, according to AT&T Terms of Service. If a payment is returned to you, such as a bounced check, there’s a charge of up to $30.
  • AT&T cancellation fees — AT&T early termination fees are prorated and specific to your plan. In most AT&T internet plan details, you’ll see a prorated early termination fee of $180.
  • Setup and installation fees — New service that requires professional setup and installation may be up to $99 in installation fees, but its waived on many plans.
  • CenturyLink modem and router rental fee — You can lease a CenturyLink modem for up to $15/mo. Additionally, you have the option to purchase your own CenturyLink compatible modem and router.
  • Data limit and usage fees — All CenturyLink internet plans come with unlimited data.
  • Late payment fees — Late payments may result in a combination of a flat fee of up to $15/mo. plus a percentage (typically up to 5%) of the unpaid bill.
  • CenturyLink cancellation fees — Since CenturyLink offers month-to-month “no contract” plans with no term commitment, there’s no CenturyLink cancellation fee. But if you have CenturyLink high-speed internet service with a bundle, you could be charged early termination fees related to other services that have a contract term, such as TV services.
  • Setup and installation fees — An installation fee of $99 may be charged for having a professional technician set up equipment. Otherwise, you can opt for self-installation which comes with a fee of up to $50 for shipping and handling of equipment.

Cox internet fees and costs

  • Cox modem and router rental fee — If you’re interested in renting Cox’s Panoramic Wi-Fi Modem, the charge is $14/mo. You can also choose to purchase your own modem instead of renting — just make sure it is Cox compatible.
  • Data limit and usage fees — All Cox internet plans come with 1 TB of data. Going over that limit will result in a $10 fee for every 50GB. You also have the option to upgrade to unlimited data for an additional monthly fee or add an extra 500GB as needed.
  • Late payment fees — Late payment of your Cox bill will result in a fee of up to 1.5% of the unpaid balance per month. Additionally, returned payments may result in a fee of up to $25.
  • Cox cancellation fees — Your Cox cancellation fee will be prorated based on the terms of your agreement but can be up to $360.
  • Setup and installation feesInternet installation fees with Cox cost up to $100 for professional installation or free for self-installation.

Frontier internet fees and costs

  • Frontier modem and router rental fee — Frontier internet customers will receive a modem and/or router based on their plan. For some plans, though, Frontier may charge a $10/mo. router fee, according to their offer details.
  • Data limit and usage fees — Frontier doesn’t have data caps or limits so you won’t face usage fees.
  • Late payment fees — Frontier charges a late payment fee up to $10 if a payment isn’t received by the billing due date. Frontier’s late payment fee shows up under “other service charges” on your bill.
  • Frontier cancellation fees — Some Frontier internet plans are no-contract plans, which means you have no Frontier cancellation fees. However, some Frontier internet plans require a two-year agreement. If you cancel service early on a Frontier plan with an agreement, you may be subject to an early termination fee of up to $400. 
  • Setup and installation fees — Installation fees total $50 for Frontier internet; however, you can get the fee waived with a two-year agreement.

HughesNet internet fees and costs

  • HughesNet modem and router rental fee — HughesNet offers customers the option to purchase or lease equipment, which includes a satellite dish in addition to the typical modem and router. Leasing equipment will cost $14.99/mo. while purchasing costs a one-time payment of $349.98. They sometimes run promotions offering discounts on equipment leases and purchases.
  • Data limit and usage fees — There are no data limits or fees with HughesNet internet. Instead, if you go over your chosen plan, you’ll experience reduced internet speeds until the next billing cycle.
  • Late payment fees — HughesNet does not charge late payment fees, but you will receive reminders to pay your bill if your account is past due.
  • HughesNet cancellation fees — Canceling your HughesNet service before the end of your two-year agreement may result in a service termination fee of up to $400. After the first 90 days of service, your HughesNet cancellation fee is reduced by $15/mo. for each month of active service.
  • Setup and installation fees — Standard installation costs up to $200 for customers leasing equipment and is included for free for customers purchasing equipment. New lease customers may be able to take advantage of free installation promotions.

Mediacom internet fees and costs

  • Mediacom modem and router rental fee — Mediacom offers you the option to rent a modem or purchase your own Mediacom-compatible modem. If you choose to rent equipment, you’ll be charged $13/mo.
  • Data limit and usage fees — Each Mediacom internet plan comes with a set data limit. Going over your data limit will result in a charge of $10 per each additional 50GB used.
  • Late payment fees — If you miss your billing due date, you’ll be charged a late payment fee. Mediacom does offer a 10-day grace period that allows you to pay your bill without services being shut off.
  • Mediacom cancellation fees — Terminating your internet agreement early may result in Mediacom cancellation fees. Internet customers with a two- or three-year agreement may be charged up to $240 in cancellation fees, while customers with a one-year agreement may be charged up to $120 in fees. Your Mediacom cancellation fee is reduced by a prorated amount for each day that you have services.
  • Setup and installation fees — To get your Mediacom internet set up, you’ll be charged a one-time installation fee of $100. New customers may be able to take advantage of promotions that waive the setup fees.

Optimum internet fees and costs

  • Optimum modem and router rental fee — Optimum internet plans include a free modem and router from the company.
  • Data limit and usage fees Optimum internet plans come with unlimited data so you don’t have to worry about data overage fees. Keep in mind, though, that while there are no hard data limits, Optimum’s parent company, Altice, says they may impose limits on customers who violate their excessive use policy.
  • Late payment fees — Optimum internet customers who don’t pay their bill within two days of the due date will be charged a late payment fee of $10 for each past-due bill.
  • Optimum cancellation fees — Optimum does not have contracts, so there are no early termination fees to worry about. 
  • Setup and installation fees — Standard installation is included at no extra cost with Optimum.
  • Optimum Network Enhancement Fee — In addition to the fees above, Optimum also charges a $3.50/mo. Network Enhancement Fee, which the company says helps them to invest in the Optimum network to bring customers the best services possible.

Spectrum internet fees and costs

  • Spectrum modem and router rental fee — Spectrum internet plans include either a modem or Gateway modem/router combo with service. Plans that only include a modem will need to either rent a router for $5/mo. or you’ll have to purchase your own router.
  • Data limit and usage fees Spectrum internet plans don’t have data limits or data overage fees.
  • Late payment fees — Not paying your Spectrum internet bill on time may result in a late payment fee of up to $8.95.
  • Spectrum cancellation fees — While the company has no-term agreements that don’t include Spectrum cancellation fees, you’ll still be responsible for paying the entire month’s bill, even if you cancel on day one of your billing cycle. Previously, Spectrum would send off a prorated final bill, but the company announced they would stop prorated bills effective June 23, 2019.
  • Setup and installation fees — Spectrum internet plans come with a one-time $49.99 professional installation fee or you can opt to self-install for $19.99.

T-Mobile internet fees and costs

  • Data limit and usage fees T-Mobile internet plans include the price of equipment at no extra cost.
  • Late payment fees — Because T-Mobile doesn’t require a contract, there are no fees for late payments.
  • Verizon Fios cancellation fees — There are no contracts with T-Mobile, so you don’t have to worry about early termination fees if you move or want to change your plan.
  • Setup and installation fees — T-Mobile’s self-installation is entirely free.

Verizon Fios internet fees and costs

  • Data limit and usage fees Verizon Fios internet plans include the price of equipment at no extra cost.
  • Late payment fees — Verizon states in their internet user terms of service that they may charge a late fee on unpaid balances if they don’t receive the full payment by the due date. The late fee could be a charge of 1.5% of the unpaid balance per month or $9/mo.
  • Verizon Fios cancellation fees — There are no contracts with Verizon Fios plans, so you don’t have to worry about early termination fees if you move or want to change your plan.
  • Setup and installation fees — Verizon Fios internet plans require an Installation Fee of $99.00. This Fee is waived if ordered online.

Windstream internet fees and costs

  • Windstream modem and router rental fee — Windstream requires internet customers to rent a Gateway modem-router combo for up to $10/mo. depending on the internet plan.
  • Data limit and cap fees Windstream internet plans don’t have data caps or restrictions so you won’t have to worry about data overage fees.
  • Late payment fees — Making a late payment on your Windstream internet bill will result in a late payment fee that is a percentage of your balance due. For instance, customers in New York will be charged a 1.5% late payment fee on the balance.
  • Windstream cancellation fees — According to the company’s support page, there is no Windstream cancellation or early termination fee if you decide to cancel services.
  • Setup and installation fees — Getting your Windstream internet set up and installed will require a one-time $60 activation fee.

Xfinity internet fees and costs

  • Xfinity modem and router rental fee — Renting Xfinity’s xFi Gateway modem/router combo costs $15/mo. You also have the option to use your own Xfinity-compatible router.
  • Data limit and cap fees — All Xfinity internet plans come with 1TB of data. Going over that limit will result in a $10 charge for every additional 50GB. You also have the option to upgrade to unlimited data for an additional $50/mo.
  • Late payment fees — Late payment for most Xfinity internet plans may result in a fee of up to $10. However, the customer service agreement for Maryland residents outlines a late fee of up to 10% per month for the amount not paid in full.
  • Xfinity cancellation fees — Early termination fees are typically reduced by $10/mo. after each month of service. Expect to have a set Xfinity cancellation fee outlined in your terms of service.
  • Setup and installation fees — Internet installation costs either a one-time fee of up to $100 (depending on your plan) for professional installation or a one-time charge of $15 for self-installation. Depending on current promotions, you may get a discount on Xfinity installation fees.

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Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Principal Writer, Broadband Content

Joe is a senior writer for CNET covering home technology and broadband. Prior to joining CNET, Joe led MYMOVE’s moving coverage and reported on broadband policy, the digital divide, and privacy issues for the br… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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