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5 Low-Cost Home Internet Options

Low-Cost Internet

Internet access is not so much a privilege in our modern age as it is a necessity. It’s our lifeline to the world — to pay our bills, for online banking, to do our jobs, to look for jobs and to connect to other people. However, the cost of internet plans can quickly add up, especially if you aren’t paying attention. For those of us on a budget or low income, the cost of internet packages can make or break our finances. Fortunately, there are low-cost internet providers. Let’s take a look at the best one.

Free and Subsidized Internet Services

For those living in the United States, there are also different programs offered through various internet providers that allow low-income households to access free or subsidized internet services.

  • AT&T: People who apply and are approved for the Affordable Connectivity Program can access free internet plans through AT&T (subject to area coverage and availability). Plans offer up up to 100Mbps.
  • QLink: Lifeline is a program funded federally, that gives Americans free wireless service. It's offered through QLink, and provides unlimited talk and texting, as well as data plans.

1. Fiber Internet: AT&T

Fiber internet is all the rage because it offers incredibly fast connections. If you are able to purchase a fiber internet plan, definitely consider it. AT&T offers one of the cheaper fiber internet packages out there, and you can see if it is available in your area.

Package Cost and Features

Their cheapest package is Internet 300. It costs $55 and up plus taxes for up to 300 megabits per seconds.

AT&T’s cheapest plan comes with a maximum download and upload speed of 300 megabits per second, making it one of the most cost-effective fiber plans on the market. There are no added equipment costs, and you will get unlimited data. Snatch up this plan while it is still available.

2. Rural Customers: Mediacom

For rural areas, customers may not be able to sign up for a fiber optic internet plan due to a lack of providers in the service area. Although fiber has become increasingly more available and widespread, rural areas still are tricky in terms of its initial setup. Still, customers can find low-cost internet in the more sparsely populated parts of the mid west and south with Mediacom.

Package Cost and Features

Their cheapest package is Access Internet 60. It costs $20 a month with up to 60 megabits per second. Wi-Fi equipment fees are about $12 a moth. You may be looking at an estimated total of $32 a month, plus taxes.

Mediacom’s cheapest internet plan will buy you a 200-gigabyte package. Be wary of this, as you will be charged an overage fee of $10 per 50-gigbyte data block. Know how much data you typically use before biting the bullet. If you just need basic internet access, then this is for you. If you plan on streaming or going live in a multi-person household, consider Mediacom’s other plans that offer additional data usage.

3. Alternative Low-Cost Fiber: Quantum Fiber

When it comes to internet providers, it all depends on where you live. Some providers may not offer any packages in your area or region. If you are looking for a high-speed, low-cost internet service, check to see if Quantum Fiber is offered near you. Formally known as CenturyLink Fiber, Quantum Fiber has one of the cheapest pricing for gig speeds on the market.

Package Cost and Features

The cheapest package is Quantum Fiber 200. It costs $65 per month plus taxes for 200 megabits per second. This includes a $15-a-month Wi-Fi equipment fee.

Quantum Fiber 200 will get you 200 megabits per second, but you should note that its package cost doesn’t include equipment rental. Quantum Fiber 200 doesn’t offer the fastest speed, so if you are looking for something with a little more bite, upgrade to the Quantum Fiber Gigabit plan instead. Still, with this low-cost internet service, you are only paying about $65 per month for high-speed fiber internet.

4. Best for Budgets: Cox Communications

Typically, Cox Communications’ plans run on the higher side. However, its prepaid service packs a lot of value at little cost. As far as low-cost internet services are concerned, Cox’s prepaid plan is one of the better options. If you have less-than-stellar credit or just want a service that has few surprises, Cox Communications’ prepaid internet plan is for you.

Package Cost and Features

The cheapest package is Internet Starter. It costs $32 plus taxes and includes the Wi-Fi equipment fee of $11 a month.

Cox Communications has packages as low as $32 per month for 25 megabits per second, but you can also opt for their prepaid Cox StraightUp Internet plan for $50 per month. With this plan you can upgrade to 100 megabits per second, a free router and modem device, free installation and a price guarantee for three years, which is not a bad deal for a couple bucks more.

5. Best Speed With Low Fees: Charter Spectrum

Low fees and high speeds? What could be better? A main worry for internet service plans is the hidden fees you could potentially be slammed with when promised a low-cost internet package. Spectrum’s plan is straightforward. They’re known for limited fees and getting the best bang for your buck in terms of speed.

Package Cost and Features

The cheapest package is Spectrum Internet. It costs $55 per month plus tax, including Wi-Fi equipment fees at $5 per month.

With Spectrum Internet, you will be paying $55 a month for up to 200 megabits per second. With its fast download speeds and minimal Wi-Fi equipment fees (one of the lowest at $5 per month), Spectrum Internet is certainly a fair and low-cost deal. Its monthly price of $55 will also get you unlimited data and no contracts. Getting what you pay for and fast speeds is well worth the slightly higher cost of $55 for Spectrum’s cheapest internet plan.

Tips for Finding Low-Cost Internet

Securing a low-cost internet plan can be a real headache, and some of these providers are in select areas, so you will have to do a little research on your own to determine what is available in your region. However, here are a few tips that can help you land a low-cost internet plan no matter where you live:

  • Read about the fees. Internet service providers can be sneaky about fees. Make sure you aren’t signing up for something that seems too good to be true, only to find out you are getting hit with dozens of fees after the fact.
  • Avoid bundles. If you just want internet and no cable or phone deals, make it abundantly clear in your search, otherwise you could be pushed into getting a bundle you have no need or desire for. Service providers try to get customers to go for what they sell as enticing bundles. If you are unsure of what type of plan you need, make a list with attributes that are a good fit for you like download speeds, amount of data, number of users and your budget.
  • Ask if equipment is included. Some plans look superb on paper because providers won’t include the cost of the Wi-Fi equipment. You could be paying $10 to $20 a month extra for a router or modem that you didn’t account for when signing up.
  • Read the contract thoroughly. As with anything in life, read before you sign. That includes your internet plan because you just never know what some service providers will sneak into the fine print.