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How Much Do You Pay For internet? Guide To Cheap Options For Seniors

In today’s digital world, 75% of seniors use the internet, but many face high costs that limit access. This article explores practical solutions for older people looking for low-cost internet services to ensure they stay connected without causing financial stress.

With average monthly internet costs hovering around $60, finding cheaper alternatives can free up resources for other essential expenses. Many older adults primarily need access to the Internet to complete basic tasks such as email, browsing the news, video calling family members, and streaming media. Therefore, paying for a high-speed plan may not always be necessary.

Internet pricing in the United States varies significantly based on location, the internet service provider, and the type of service. Here’s a general breakdown of how internet costs can differ across various areas:

  1. New York City, Boston
    • ZIP Codes: NYC (10001-11697), Boston (02101-02217)
    • Price Range: $40 to $70 for basic to intermediate speeds; over $100 for high-speed fiber-optic.
  2. Rural Areas Nationwide
    • ZIP Codes: Broad range depending on specific rural areas
    • Price Range: $50 to $100 or more for adequate speeds.
  3. Chicago, Minneapolis
    • ZIP Codes: Chicago (60601-60827), Minneapolis (55401-55488)
    • Price Range: $30 to $50 for entry-level plans; $60 to $100 for higher speeds.
  4. Rural Midwest
    • ZIP Codes: Broad range, specific to states like Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, etc.
    • Price Range: $40 to $120 depending on provider and package.
  5. Atlanta, Dallas
    • ZIP Codes: Atlanta (30301-31196), Dallas (75001-75398)
    • Price Range: $30 to $70, with competitive pricing due to multiple providers.
  6. Rural South
    • ZIP Codes: Broad range, specific to states like Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, etc.
    • Price Range: $50 to $100, with fewer providers.
  7. Los Angeles, Seattle
    • ZIP Codes: Los Angeles (90001-91609), Seattle (98101-98199)
    • Price Range: $30 to $50 for basic packages; $70 to over $100 for high speeds.
  8. Rural West
    • ZIP Codes: Broad range, specific to states like Montana, Idaho, Nevada, etc.
    • Price Range: $60 to $150, varying based on speed and reliability due to connectivity challenges.

Average monthly internet costs by type

DSL $54
Cable $69
Fiber $81
Satellite $93

average internet cost
Average cost $65 per month
Maximum cost $300 per month
Minimum fee $20 per month

Broadband Internet Type

The type of broadband internet you choose will affect available speeds and costs. Availability varies by location, but you may encounter some of the following options:

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): DSL uses existing phone lines to provide Internet service. It’s generally slower than other types, but tends to be more affordable, averaging around $54 per month.

Cable Internet: Cable is a popular choice due to its wide availability and faster speeds compared to DSL. On average, cable internet costs about $69 per month.

Fiber optic Internet: Although fiber optic Internet penetration is not high, its speeds are significantly faster than cable. The average cost of fiber is approximately $81 per month.

Satellite Internet: Satellite is often the only option for rural or remote areas. It has slower speeds but great coverage, and the average cost is about $93 per month.

5G Home Internet: 5G home internet is a promising option, especially in rural areas, and it often offers lower speeds at a more affordable price, averaging around $51 per month.

Each type of internet service has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific needs and location.

Choose an internet provider

The internet provider you choose can significantly impact your monthly costs. In many parts of the United States, residents often only have one or two providers, even as new technologies are beginning to diversify the market. Mediacom and Comcast Xfinity are more affordable options, with plans starting at $19.99 per month.

The table below lists the average price ranges for the top ten internet providers in the United States to help you compare and choose based on your budget and availability in your area.

internet provider
AT&T Internet $55.00-$250.00/month.
Charter Spectrum $49.99-$89.99/month.
Comcast Xfinity $19.99 – $299.95/month.
Cox Communications $49.99-$109.99/month.
Google Fiber 70.00-150.00 USD/month.
HughesNet $49.99-$159.99/month.
Mediacom $19.99 – $99.99/month.
T-Mobile Home Internet $30.00-$50.00/month.
Verizon Fios $24.99-$64.99/month.
Windstream $39.99-$69.99/month.

Impact of download speed on cost

Internet costs generally increase with speed. The speed you need depends on how many people in your home use the internet and what they use it for. For example, a home with multiple residents working from home or frequently playing online games may need higher speeds than someone who primarily uses the Internet to check email or browse social media.

The table below lists the average monthly internet costs based on different download speeds, but prices may vary depending on your location.

Most people can access high-quality, high-speed Internet for about $70 a month. This price point is a good standard to target if you want to set up internet at home or are considering switching providers. Typically, for $70, you should expect:

Download speeds of 100Mbps or higher
Contains Wi-Fi devices such as modems and routers or gateways
Covers additional costs such as Wi-Fi access or infrastructure fees
The specific options available to you will vary based on your location and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) operating in your area. Based on our internal research, different ISPs offer different levels of service and pricing, which may affect the $70 you actually receive.

How to provide affordable internet service to seniors

Understanding Needs Seniors may not need high-speed internet plans designed for heavy users like gamers or large families who stream on multiple devices. Instead, their needs may be more focused on browsing, sending emails, and making video calls with loved ones. Determining these needs can help seniors choose a plan that isn’t overpriced for unnecessary bandwidth.

Look for Senior Discounts Many major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer discounts for seniors. Companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have plans for seniors, but they tend to be little publicized. It’s important to ask your service provider directly about any available senior discounts, as these offers can significantly reduce monthly costs.

Government Assistance Programs The federal government offers programs to help low-income individuals, including seniors, obtain basic services such as internet. The Lifeline program, for example, offers eligible low-income users discounts on monthly internet service. Seniors can apply for Lifeline through their internet service provider or by visiting the official Lifeline support website.

Consider a Basic Plan Most ISPs offer basic, low-speed internet plans that are suitable for seniors’ typical online activities. These plans are generally much cheaper than high-speed options and are sufficient for emailing, online shopping, and browsing.

Shared Programs and Community Access Some communities offer shared internet access at senior living centers, libraries and community centers, which can be a cost-effective alternative. These shared connections are often free or very low cost, providing adequate access for seniors who rarely use the Internet.

Negotiate with Providers Don’t hesitate to negotiate with your internet provider or shop around for a better deal. Providers often run promotions or offer discounts to retain customers, especially if competitors are offering lower prices. Letting them know you’re considering switching providers can sometimes lead to discounts.

Leverage municipal and local broadband Some towns provide their own broadband services, which may be cheaper than commercial services. Municipal broadband isn’t available everywhere, but when it is, it usually offers competitive pricing and reliable service.

Conclusion

As a senior, securing affordable internet doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By taking advantage of discounts, government programs, and negotiating with providers, seniors can find internet service that fits their budget and needs. Everyone should be able to stay connected in the digital world, regardless of age or financial status.