The high cost of staying connected in today's technology-driven world has many people on the hunt for cheap internet service providers. The dilemma, however, is that "cheap" is a relative term.
While there are some options for lowcost internet access, they are not all created equal. Some are truly bare-bones and will end up being hugely frustrating even for watching something as typical as a YouTube video. Others cost a bit more but come with better connection speeds and data packages.
The good news is that with so many different service options and pricing tiers, you can easily customize your choice to your needs and budget.
By the end of this review, you'll understand how to get cheap internet service and keep your internet and cable bills as low as possible.
Cheap Internet Providers
Cheapest Internet Provider: CenturyLink
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is one of the cheapest high-speed internet options available. Its connection speed and reliability rival that of cable internet and it's typically less expensive.
When it comes to budget-friendly DSL look no further than CenturyLink. On top of the price benefit, here's what else they have to offer:
- Speed - Although CenturyLink isn't nearly as fast as satellite or fiber, is by far the fastest of its main competitors when it comes to speed.
- Plans - CenturyLink offers more plans than their regular 12 Mbps DSL one. They have a second plan that's broadband and offers 40 Mbps.
But of course, there's always a catch:
- Contracts - CenturyLink requires you to enter quite a lengthy contract to begin services with them.
- Fees - CenturyLink charges high early termination fees should you decide to leave that contract early.
CenturyLink Internet Plans
|CenturyLink Internet 100 Mbps||100 Mbps||$49|
|CenturyLink Internet 1Gbps||1000 Mbps||$65|
Cheapest Cable Internet Provider: Optimum
Cable Internet is one of the most popular options for internet usage due to the fact that it's delivered through the same wiring as your cable television. Furthermore, cable is faster than satellite and basic DSL services.
When it comes to cheap cable internet, Optimum is the choice for you. Optimum offers:
- No Data Caps - Don't worry about overage fees or service slowing down as there are no data caps with Optimum.
- Bundling Options - One major perk of cable internet is that you can bundle it with TV.
- Hotspots - Optimum has millions of Wi-Fi hotspots available to you when you choose them as a provider
It's not all good though:
- Coverage - Unfortunately, Optimum is only available in a small portion of the country. So if they aren't available in your area you'll have to look elsewhere.
Find out more about cable television and internet bundles to examine your options for bringing down the costs of both cable services. Just be sure to read the terms because the cheap cable internet plans typically come at a temporary introductory rate that expires after six months to a year.
Optimum Internet Plans
|Optimum Internet 200||200 Mbps||$44.99|
|Optimum Internet 300||300 Mbps||$54.99|
|Optimum Internet 400||400 Mbps||$64.99|
|Optimum Internet 1 GIG||1000 Mbps||$79.99|
Fastest Cheap Internet Provider: XFINITY
XFINITY offers coverage for the majority of the US. Along with speeds they also offer package bundles that can save you some serious dough.
They also offer:
- Speed - XFINITY packages offer speeds up to 1000 Mbps.
- X1 DVR - If you bundle your internet and XFINITY TV you'll get the X1 DVR that allows you to access Netflix and YouTube just like you would with any smart TV.
- Availability - XFINITY covers a large portion of the US.
- Price - XFINITY's plans are among the most competitive in terms of price especially if you bundle.
- Hotspots - XFINITY gives you access to millions of hotspots across the country.
XFINITY has very limited downsides. One to consider though is:
- Data Caps - XFINITY will charge you if you go over your allotted data.
Xfinity Internet Plans
|Xfinity Peformance Starter+ Internet||25 Mbps||$29.99|
|Xfinity Performance Select Internet||100 Mbps||$34.99|
|Xfinity Performance Pro+ Internet||200 Mbps||$49.99|
|Xfinity Blast! Pro+ Internet||300 Mbps||$64.99|
|Xfinity Extreme Pro+ Internet||600 Mbps||$74.99|
Cheapest Fiber Internet Provider: Verizon
- Speed - Verizon FiOS offers speeds from 100-1000 Mbps. That's enough to cater to a family of four to a small business.
- No Contracts - That's right, pay monthly through Verizon's fiber options
- Price - Verizon FiOS options are competitively priced for the most part.
Now the downside:
- Larger Package - If you're looking to purchase a plan of 1000 Mbps there are definitely cheaper options out there.
Verizon FiOS Internet Plans
|Verizon FiOS FiOS Internet 100 Mbps||100 Mbps||$39.99|
|Verizon FiOS FiOS Internet 300 Mbps||300 Mbps||$59.99|
|Verizon FiOS FiOS Gigabit Internet||940 Mbps||$79.99|
Cheap Internet Service for Low Income
In March of 2016, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) expanded their Lifeline program to include subsidization for broadband internet service.
The program has been in place since 1985, providing discount phone service to low-income Americans in order to enhance their access to job opportunities and other essential life functions.
The FCC has broadened the Lifeline program with the goal of making vital technology in today's global world affordable for low-income families.
The program has been in place since 1985, providing discount phone service to low-income Americans in order to enhance their access to job opportunities and other essential life functions. The FCC has broadened the Lifeline program with the goal of making vital technology in today's global world affordable for low-income families.
The best part of this expansion is that the FCC is working with partner companies to provide cheap high-speed internet that is the same as any other customer would receive at the same level. It's not a watered down version with slower speeds or fewer features. Here are the essentials:
- Your service is provided by one of the big industry players, like AT&T Internet and Comcast Internet.
- Prices sit right around $10 per month, typically with no installation fee.
- You get speeds up to 10Mbps.
- Most partner companies provide in-home Wi-Fi.
- Depending upon your state, you must provide either proof of participation in a public benefits program, or proof of low income (either 135% or 150% of the poverty level, depending on where you are).
If you fall into the low-income category, this program is an ideal way to gain access to cheap home internet. Just remember that it is your responsibility to notify your provider if you no longer fall within the income guidelines for the program.
Internet Essentials are one such provider that offers high-speed internet to low-income families. Even better is that with Internet Essentials, there are no credit checks, no installation fees, no contracts, and in-home WiFi is included at no additional cost.
As stated earlier, you can see that "cheap" depends on what you plan to do online. The cheapest internet service may not pack a punch to your wallet, but it won't do you much good if you need to stream a lot of media or deal with large files for work.
On the other hand, there are ways to make high-speed internet cheaper if you're willing to do a little legwork to find the best deal. Also, don't forget to call your provider's phone number for a rate cut - they'll often work with you rather than lose a customer.
There are so many options for affordable internet access these days, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a provider and a plan that suit your budget and your needs.
To make things easier, we've provided you with a convenient zip code checker so you can quickly assess which of the best internet providers offer affordable service in your local area.