How Much Should I Be Paying for Internet?

Getting reliable internet service at a reasonable speed sets many Americans back well over 50 dollars a month -- a number which does not even begin to take into account additional charges such as installation, equipment, and the combined total of internet combo packages.

Getting reliable internet service at a reasonable speed sets many Americans back well over 50 dollars a month -- a number which does not even begin to take into account additional charges such as installation, equipment, and the combined total of internet combo packages. Take all of these facts into account, and it is easy to see why Americans pay some of the most expensive internet fees in the world. Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be this way! There are many variable factors influencing the price of your internet services -- some of which can be fairly easily changed. By analyzing your personal situation carefully while learning about the factors that determine internet pricing, you can probably lower your monthly bill considerably. Below, we will discuss seven of the driving factors which influence internet pricing -- information which can help empower users like you to make smarter choices for your home and your family.  
  1. Geographical Location
The cost of internet service tends to vary greatly from location to location. As we mentioned earlier, for instance, Americans pay far more than citizens of most other countries. But you don’t need to look overseas to find examples of how geography can impact internet costs. Even within the same country (or the same state for that matter), prices are influenced by the lay of the land. Highly urbanized areas tend to offer lower prices due to increased competition and better infrastructure, for example; whereas rural areas tend to have few options and costlier infrastructure systems. And speaking of infrastructure, the types of internet connections available tend to vary from place to place, as well -- which brings us to our next point...  
  1. Internet Connection Type
Assuming you don’t want a dial-up connection, (which, believe it or not, do still exist) you are basically left with four different kinds of broadband connection -- each of which offers its own unique set of benefits and challenges
  • Digital subscriber lines operate in a very similar fashion to dial up internet -- DSL cables are essentially phone lines uniquely dedicated to transmitting a wireless connection. Because the infrastructure is utilized exclusively for internet, however, it operates much faster than dial-up, and it does so without interfering with your ability to make calls. Because each subscriber gets their own line, you won’t have to worry about your connection slowing down during peak hours, either! The downside is that DSL connections must be located within relatively close proximity to a server, so such service is usually not located in rural areas.
  • Cable Broadband. Fast, affordable, and widely available, this internet connection option -- which “multipurposes” cable lines for internet transmission -- is the ideal choice for many people. The only downside is that service can sometimes slow down during peak usage hours and prime time.
  • Satellite Internet. This option can sometimes set you back nearly double what cable and DSL connections would cost. The benefit? Projecting internet connection from a satellite to a dish is a process unfettered by many of the logistical problems that plague DSL and Cable Broadband internet service providers. So if you live in a remote, rural, or underserved area, this may be your only option.
  • Fiber Optic Service. Like satellite internet, this option tends to be significantly more expensive than the first two internet connection types that we discussed. The difference is that, when it comes to Fiber Optic Internet Services, many users are excited to pay this premium because they understand the upside. Fiber optic service is magnitudes of order faster than other connections, and offers a thousand times more bandwidth.
  1. Data Used
The majority of US ISPs place monthly data caps on their users -- which means that you pay an extra (premium) price on any internet use that exceeds the baseline you agreed to. While many individual users never cross over this limit, such data caps can be a major concern for businesses and organizations sharing a connection for many different users.  
  1. The Specs
It should come as no surprise that faster internet connections tend to cost a bit more than slow connections. When comparing prices, therefore, it is important to play close attention to the upload and download speeds. (Keep in mind that, for those who do not upload large files or make video calls, the first number is far more relevant to your every use.) Generally speaking, 15 mbps download speeds per user and 4 mbps upload speeds per user are considered adequate -- though your personal needs may vary. Reliability is another important metric of internet service that should be taken into account -- especially for those who use their internet for time-sensitive and/or professional purposes. Researching uptime statistics in your area for varying providers may be a wise choice.  
  1. Equipment Costs
Many internet service providers offer to rent out a modem, router, or modem/router combo in order to “save you the trouble” of securing these moderately expensive pieces of equipment on your own. In the long run, however, you will end up paying more in monthly fees that you would if you simply made an up-front investment on these items. If you have the funds available, look into modems and routers for sale in your area.  
  1. Provider Policy and Contract Details
Generally speaking, longer contracts offers a lower monthly rate than short-term deals. (Most internet service providers are willing to sacrifice a bit of profit in exchange for the security and predictability that long-term contracts offer, after all.) So if you find a fantastic deal, why not lock it in long-term and enjoy increased savings to boot? Conversely, if you can’t currently find a deal you are happy with -- or if you plan on moving within the foreseeable future -- you may be willing to pay a bit extra in order to enjoy greater flexibility.  
  1. Other Services Contracted in Conjunction With Internet
Bundling your internet connection with other important services such as cable television and landline services can sometimes net you a discount in all three. Browse the Bundle Your Internet Internet Service Provider Directory to learn more about how you can save!