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Internet is an essential service that has gained all the more important since the pandemic hit, and as with all utilities, it costs precious money. Much like electricity and rent, it is a fixed expenditure that you must bear. Unfortunately, however, budgeting this commodity can prove to be a difficult task. Because besides the monthly service fee, there is a ton of other costs that can pop up as applicable, and if you haven’t accounted for those in your planning you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.

You not only have to pay the monthly fee for your plan but also taxes, equipment rent, Wi-Fi fee, and more. And mind you, these costs really do add up to quite a bit. Meaning, you shouldn’t really decide on an internet plan without considering these. Yet often people don’t know what to ask about, and so they don’t really know what an internet plan could entail. For this reason, we’re here to break things down for all those wondering just how much you need to allocate for your internet needs.

Read on.

How Much Speed Do You Need?

Before we calculate the internet cost, it is important that we explore exactly how much speed you need. For a single person using the internet a 25 Mbps connection is more than enough. You can browse the internet, stream shows and movies, and games online. However, for a household comprising of more than 2-3 people who are also involved in data-intense activities, it simply won’t do.

To help you get a better idea of speed requirements and what would be best-buy-internet for you, here is a breakdown of internet speeds required for common online activities:

Activity

Minimum Speed

Recommended Speed

 

Checking Email

1 Mbps

1 Mbps

Streaming Music

1 Mbps

1 Mbps

One-On-One Video Calls

1 Mbps

5 Mbps

Video Conference Calls

2 Mbps

10 Mbps

Surfing the Web

3 Mbps

5 Mbps

Using Social Media

3 Mbps

10 Mbps

Streaming Video in SD

3 Mbps

5 Mbps

Streaming Video in HD

5 Mbps

10 Mbps

Streaming Video in 4K

25 Mbps

35 Mbps

Gaming Online

3–6 Mbps

25 Mbps

 

So, what do you need for your home? If you find calculating the speed based on the table above a bit difficult, here are our estimates to help you out:

1 to 5 Mbps

5 to 40 Mbps

40 to 100 Mbps

100 to 500 Mbps

500 to 1,000 Mbps

Perfect for:

 

 

·   Checking emails

·   Browsing web

·   Streaming music on one device

 

Perfect for:

 

·         Streaming 4K video on one device

·         Video calling

·         Online gaming on up to 2 devices  

Perfect for:

 

·   Streaming HD on 3-4 devices

·   Playing multiplayer games online up to 2 devices

·   Downloading large files

 

Perfect for:

·  Streaming UHD content on multiple screens

·  Online gaming with multiple players

·  Downloading large files faster

Perfect for:

 

·   Almost anything your family can think of

 

A Gigabit connection i.e. one that delivers speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, is great. But expensive. And, if you don’t have heavy usage, it’ll prove to be a waste of money. Just follow the table above to get an estimate of what speed would suffice the size of the family you are. And keep that in perspective when you look for an affordable internet plan that’s perfect for you.

How Much Does Internet Cost?

So, how much will it cost you? To find the average cost of an internet plan, we compared the prices of mid-tier plans on offer from the giants in the U.S. ISP industry—since most people are likely to opt for these.

According to the data, with a promo offer it could cost as low as $29.99 to as high as $69.99 for internet speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 500 Mbps—a standard price that kicks in after the end of the promo period which usually lasts for one year, would be higher—unless it is a regular offer that you are subscribed to as with CenturyLink Internet.

On average, however, it costs about $46 a month, so if your bill falls between $40-$50, you can rest assure you have a good deal on hand.  

Provider

Price

Max. Download speed

Data Allowance

AT&T Internet 100

$45/mo. for 12 months

100 Mbps

Unlimited

AT&T Fiber 300

$35/mo. for 12 months

300 Mbps

Unlimited

CenturyLink Internet 100

$49/mo. Price for Life

100 Mbps

1 TB

Cox Internet Ultimate

$69.99/mo. for 12 months with 1-yr. term agreement

500 Mbps

1.25 TB

Spectrum Internet

$49.99/mo. for 12 months

200 Mbps

Unlimited

RCN Internet

$34.99/mo. for 12 months

250 Mbps

Unlimited

WOW! Internet

$29.99 for 12 months with enrollment in AutoPay & paperless billing

200 Mbps

Unlimited

Xfinity Internet Performance Pro

$49.99 for 12 months with 1 yr. agreement. Price includes $10 AutoPay & paperless billing discount.

400 Mbps

1.2 TB

*Prices and speeds may vary by area. Prices may be higher in some areas.

How Much Does Wi-Fi Cost?

Wi-Fi is a tricky business. You’d think the service would be free when you sign up for an internet plan but it isn’t always so, which is why you must check with the provider before you subscribe.

However, it depends on whether you own the internet equipment or you’re renting from the provider. ISPs have different ways of going about this. Largely speaking they all charge extra money either in equipment rental or as service charges for using the Wi-Fi capability of your ISP-provided gateway device. Some allow third-party routers, but you still have to get their modem. So, this is an aspect you must make clear by asking the right questions when exploring the details of a plan.

Provider

Internet Equipment/Wi-Fi Fees

AT&T   

$10/month for a wireless gateway device

CenturyLink   

Up to $15/mo. for a modem with secure Wi-Fi feature

Cox

$12/mo. for an advanced gateway device

Spectrum

$9.99 one-time Wi-Fi activation fee & $5/mo. Wi-Fi service charge (Modem is included in all plans)

RCN

$15/mo. for modem & Standard Wi-Fi

WOW!

$14/mo. for a wireless modem and $9.99/mo. for Whole-home Wi-Fi

Xfinity

$14/mo. for the advanced xFi wireless gateway device

Going with your own router works if you are tech-savvy and sure that you’ll be able to troubleshoot issues on your own—because most ISPs do not offer tech support when you BYOD nor do they extend assistance with the installation of third-party equipment.

True that having your own modem or router—whichever is permitted by the ISP—makes for considerable annual saving, but for most people, the hassle of installing and troubleshooting is a serious consideration—so weigh out the pros and cons specific to your circumstance when it comes to rented internet equipment.

Other Internet Costs to Watch Out For

The monthly service fee is only part of the total cost you have to bear when you get an internet plan. In addition to equipment rental and Wi-Fi service, you must also consider the upfront installation cost and the data overage fee if applicable.

Installation Fee

Installation is an upfront cost that is one-time. It can be avoided only if you opt for self-install. Most providers offer a self-install kit for free while others charge a nominal amount for it. Again, as we said if you are not tech-savvy, self-installation can turn into a pain despite sounding simple enough to those who have a thing for DIY endeavors. With that said, if you are looking to save on cash, you may just find the inconvenience worth it.

ISPs in the US charge a pro install fee starting from around $50 up to $125—for instance Spectrum offers pro install at $49.99, Xfinity at $89.99, and AT&T at $99.99. Whereas CenturyLink installation can cost up to $125.

However, it is possible for you to not pay for pro installation at all. Stay on the lookout for promotional offers from ISPs serving your neighborhood. And, you’ll most likely get the installation included in the price of the plan. At times, you can also get a free installation when you bundle your internet service with TV—as is the case with AT&T Internet & DIRECTV bundles.

Overage Fee

When getting an internet plan, it is essential that you read the fine print. While quite a few providers offer unlimited data, others have a data allowance limit—around 1 TB—which for all practical purposes is rather unlikely to be exceeded.

Most ISPs charge an overage fee of around $10 when you consume data in excess of the allowance during any given billing cycle. Others keep the data cap soft, and do not charge you an overage fee but do throttle the speed—meaning you stay connected at slower speeds as with HughesNet. Having breached your data limit, your connection can also be deprioritized or suspended until the new billing cycle kicks in.  

We’d suggest you make sure to keep in perspective an estimate of data consumption in your household when you sign up for an internet plan. Get a plan which offers at least 1 TB of data so you don’t have to bother with this problem at all. Or focus on offers that get you unlimited data.   

Other Fees

Some other costs that you may want to confirm with your provider include taxes, the Early Termination Fee, late payment fee, etc., which can add to the cost of your subscription.

Bundling Your Services

You can get an affordable standalone internet plan, but if you watch cable TV or use a home phone line as a backup, it’s better to bundle your services under one provider’s roof. With promo offers you save money on each service relative to standard pricing, and often there are additional discounts, and perks such as a free pro installation, etc. On the other hand, if you don’t require these services, you’ll be throwing money down the drain by bundling.

Analyze what you use and what you need before you commit to any plan.

How to Get Wi-Fi without an Internet Plan?

Wi-Fi signals are powered by internet service from providers so unless you’re subscribed to a plan you won’t be able to use Wi-Fi. The only way around paying an internet provider, in this case, may be using public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, restaurant or public library. It won’t be safe, but it will get your work done. And, if you’re a frequent user you could get a signal booster to get better connectivity. Just keep a tab on sharing sensitive personal information when on public Wi-Fi.

Final Words

So, how much do you pay for your internet plan? Is it under the amount we calculated or above it? If you’re paying more, you may have a higher speed tier package. But, if that’s not the case, you may want to give your provider a call and renegotiate the rates at which you pay. Or, change your provider altogether.

Switching is not as monstrous a process or change that you cannot handle in order to get more value for your money every month—enter your ZIP code here, and explore available promo offers from ISPs serving your neighborhood. If you’d rather speak to a professional call at 1-855-349-9328 and get some pro advice along with an offer availability check.

Best of luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get an internet plan for a short amount of time?

Of course, you can. Not all providers require you to sign contracts. You can cancel Spectrum Internet service, for example, any time without incurring an Early Termination Fee. Spectrum does not bind subscribers with a contract which is a great plus to have.   

What is the monthly cost of the internet?

The average monthly service cost for a mid-tier plan stands around $46. So, if your bill falls between $40-$50, you have a good deal on hand. Internet plans from service providers like AT&T and Spectrum fall well within that range, and there are other perks too. 

Should one buy their own equipment?

If your provider charges an additional Wi-Fi service fee you can consider getting your own equipment as it’ll save you from paying an added amount. But, if you are not tech-savvy it’d be better to pay up to $15/mo. on top of the monthly service charge. This way you’ll also remain eligible for tech support from your ISP.