How to Pause Your Internet Service
When budgets are tight, internet service can be one of the easier obligations to put on hold. Most internet service providers (ISPs) already have a system in place for customers to temporarily pause their service and then resume it with minimal effort. The trick is knowing where to find it.
Most ISPs refer to these pauses as “seasonal holds.” But it could also be called a “hibernation plan,” “temporary suspension,” or a “vacation hold.” This difference in terminology can make it difficult for customers to find what they’re looking for, but we’ll walk you through the basics.
Why would you need to pause your internet service?
It might sound easier to just cancel your internet service if you don’t need it, but there are a number of downsides to outright cancelling internet service:
- Hefty cancellation fees
- Activation or installation fees when you reactivate service
- Long wait times for reactivating service
Pausing service can help you avoid fees and makes it much easier to get your internet up and running once you’re ready to resume service. If you get other services through your ISP, such as phone service or an email address, temporary pauses usually allow you to keep these services active.
While most of us rely on the internet daily for work, entertainment, and communication, temporary holds can be useful for long vacations or for people who spend time between more than one residence. Some providers even allow you to stay connected at a lower speed in order to maintain smart devices and security systems in vacation homes or in vacant rental properties. If you know you won’t be needing normal internet access in a given location, pausing service can save you a lot of money.
The downside of seasonal holds is that there is usually an associated fee, though this tends to be much lower than cancellation fees or the cost of simply keeping your plan active. The nature of these fees varies from provider to provider. Some ISPs require a one-time fee, while others will charge you month to month throughout your hold.
Pausing Service vs Cancelling Service
- Easy to resume
- Good for vacations
- Sometimes able to maintain slower connection
- Hold usually has small monthly or upfront fees
- Contracts still apply when hold expires
- No obligation to resume
- Can switch to a new provider
- Contracts have large cancellation fees
- Resuming service can be difficult
- Customer must pay activation fees to reactivate
Which internet providers let you pause your service?
Most ISPs offer some way to pause your service, but each one does it a bit differently. We’ve gathered some information on the top nationwide providers to see how they stack up against each other.
|Verizon||11 mos.||One-time fee||More Info|
|Spectrum||9 mos.||N/A||More Info|
|AT&T||9 mos.||Up to $7.00/mo.||More Info|
|CenturyLink||6 mos.||$9.95/mo. and up||More Info|
|Cox||9 mos.||$9.99/mo.||More Info|
|Frontier||9 mos.||Charges vary||More Info|
|Optimum||6 mos.||$10.00/mo.||More Info|
|HughesNet||6 mos.||Lease charges only||More Info|
|Viasat||6 mos.||$9.99/mo.||More Info|
Data as of 4/21/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Not all ISPs publicly list the maximum length of their holds and the associated fees, so it’s worth calling their customer service department to ask even if you don’t see one.
What alternatives are available to pausing your internet service?
While temporary holds can be a helpful tool, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re looking for even more flexibility in your internet plan, there are a few other options you can try.
Seasonal holds work great if you’re going to be away from home for an entire summer, but they can become a hassle if you move back and forth between locations multiple times throughout the year. A better option in this case would be to sign up for a no-contract internet plan. These plans operate on a monthly basis, so there’s no long-term contract to cancel. This also makes them useful for frequent movers, renters, and people looking for work in other cities.
Although signing a year-long contract will usually save you a bit of money on your monthly bill, these savings can evaporate if you don’t make it through the full year. If flexibility is something you value, the extra cost of a no-contract plan might be well worth it.
For those who want maximum flexibility, the best option is to buy a mobile hotspot. Mobile hotspots are similar to a standard router, providing a Wi-Fi network for your other devices. Hotspots then connect to the internet using cellular signals, allowing you to connect from anywhere you can get a cell phone signal.
Unlike other wireless connections, such as 4G LTE home internet, a mobile hotspot doesn’t have to stay at a fixed address. If you move, you can simply take your hotspot with you with no need to transfer or cancel your service. You can even take it with you on vacations or business trips (though if you travel internationally, check with your provider to see if they offer coverage in other countries).
Temporary holds are great, but they aren’t much good if you’re not coming back. If you’ve already signed a long-term contract, there’s usually no way to get out of it early without incurring some pretty steep fees. But there are some ISPs, like Spectrum , that offer contract buyouts. In other words, they’ll reimburse you for your cancellation fees (up to a certain amount) as long as you switch to their service.
Contract buyouts aren’t the most flexible option, since you usually just switch one long-term plan for another. But if you’re going to be forced to cancel a contract anyway, it’s worth looking into ISPs who might make that transition less painful.
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Temporary holds are a useful option
Dealing with internet bills can be one of the most frustrating interactions you have with your ISP, so it’s convenient that most providers already have a system to help customers who need to put their service on hold. Pausing your service can save you time and money, so it’s an option you should take advantage of if you need it.
Author - Peter Christiansen
Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.