Are you on the hunt for a cheaper Internet Service Provider (ISP)? If you aren’t, you should be. Internet is a necessity in the modern American home, and it’s a service that many consider a basic human right in this day and age. The U.S., however, is not known for great data prices. In fact, the U.S. has been lagging behind the rest of the globe on Internet speeds for several years now. CNN even dubbed America the “Bastion of mediocre Internet speeds.”
But even if you can’t get a world-class deal on Internet service, you may still be able to save by switching plans or providers.
Where Do I Start?
As Internet costs continue to rise in the wireless era, you should be searching for the most reasonable price based on where you live. Your ZIP code matters. The Cost of Connectivity report from the Open Technology Institute recently studied the cost and speed of Internet in 24 cities around the world. The organization found that for a plan up to 50 Mbps, you’ll pay under $50 a month in Kansas City, whereas in Los Angeles, you’ll pay near $70 for that same plan.
If you’re researching lower-cost ISPs available in your area, you should be able to find a few different options. Although some areas are dominated by a single provider, there are often a lot of smaller providers available that you may not be aware of — and they’re likely offering cheaper service plans. Switching ISPs — or even just switching your plan — could save you quite a bit.
What Factors Affect Provider and Plan Costs?
Internet prices vary depending on a variety of options. Here are some of the biggest factors to look at before deciding on a plan.
- ISP Type
DSL, cable, fiber-optic, and satellite Internet vary in cost and availability. Generally, cable offers the most expensive plans, while DSL offers significantly cheaper options. Satellite is a great option for rural subscribers, while fiber-optic Internet is available only in select cities. You’ll have more luck finding a cheaper plan if you go with an ISP type that has an established infrastructure in your area.
- Downstream Speed Options
If your Internet needs are simpler and you don’t stream videos or share files, you can save by choosing an ISP that offers slower plans. Plans that offer speeds up to 10 Mbps will end up costing significantly less than those advertising speeds of 100 Mbps or more, so don’t pay for more than what you need.
- Bundled Packages
Bundled Internet packages that combine your TV and home phone services can equal big savings. Factor in all of your communication and entertainment needs when you’re searching for a provider.
- Equipment Fees
Pay attention to any required equipment fees with potential ISPs. Some providers will waive equipment costs for certain plans, and you may also be able to avoid fees by purchasing your own equipment.
- Contract Length
Many providers offer discounted services to customers willing to sign a longer contract. However, you’ll have more room for negotiations with current and potential ISPs if you aren’t locked into a service agreement. Weigh the pros and cons of these two options carefully.
- Promotional Offers
Take advantage of ISP promotional offers, including low introductory rates. Don’t hesitate to haggle with your provider, either. Many ISPs will drop costs rather than lose a paying customer.
- Fine Print
Read the fine print to discover if you could save by installing your own modem or performing repairs by yourself. Additionally, take the time to understand any contractual obligations — some ISPs have hefty cancellation fees if you break your agreement before the term is up.
Regardless of where you fall on the Internet-use spectrum, you don’t have to settle with your current monthly Internet costs. Take some time to explore other local plan and provider options. To easily search nearby providers, check out this Internet provider guide, which lists ISPs based on your ZIP code, compares providers side-by-side, and includes customer reviews.