In most households, having internet access is a necessity. Internet access has become even more important in 2020 because of the pandemic, with many students and employees working from home. Your internet access comes from an internet service provider (ISP). There are several big-name ISPs in the United States, such as Comcast, Spectrum, or CenturyLink, but these giant ISPs do not always offer the best rates. Based on location, you may have a limited number of ISPs to choose from, but there are usually at least one or two other providers. There are also a couple of unique deals being offered in 2020 due to the pandemic. Listed below are some of the most affordable ISPs on the market.
Low Cost Internet Providers
Because of the pandemic, there are a few special deals available for internet access. Several deals have already expired, but may be offered again in the future. These deals were specifically for households with students, offering 60 days of free internet. Both Altice and Charter Communications were offering these deals. As of writing, the deals expired for the 2020 year, but it is worth keeping an eye on these providers to see if a new package is announced for the 2021 school year.
Cox has a deal running until the end of September, offering two months of free service, with internet-only costing $9.95 for the remaining months. The package also includes two months of free remote desktop and phone support. Cox is also providing school toolkits to help students. Discounted routers are also available thanks to a partnership with PCs for People.
Charter is offering a similar deal, providing free broadband and Wi-Fi access to households with at least one student. These households are eligible for 60 days of free internet, at any service level up to 100 Mbps. Installation fees are also waived for these households. Additionally, Charter is working with local schools to ensure teachers have all the resources they need for remote learning.
A smaller ISP, Sierra Tel is focusing on households without any internet. Sierra Tel is offering free internet for any household without an ISP that has a student enrolled in public school. Finally, many internet providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum and CenturyLink are offering to work with customers to help waive late fees and disconnections because of Covid-19. These are being handled on a case by case basis, so you will have to contact the ISP directly to see what services are available.
Xfinity has become one of the largest ISPs in the United States, in no small part because of their affordable prices. Xfinity has multiple packages to choose from, with the lowest costing $24.99 a month, offering 25 Mbps download speed. The next package up is $55 a month, with speeds up to 100 Mbps. If you want a faster package, you can jump to the Performance Pro package for $70 a month, with 200 Mbps download speeds. There are additional packages as well if you need even faster speeds.
Another benefit of Xfinity is the plans are available without contract options. If you are on the fence about Xfinity, you can sign up for a plan without having to worry about being locked in for several years. This is also helpful if you bought a faster plan, but find you do not use it enough to justify the price and want to drop to a less expensive package. You also do not have to worry about paying early termination fees or other penalties if you decide to move or switch providers.
At a glance, AT&T internet packages look overly expensive. Part of this is because AT&T plans focus on other areas, like phone and television services. AT&T has three separate starter packages with 100 Mbps available, with prices ranging from $80 to $90. These packages also include plenty of other benefits, and you can also get additional discounts if you bundle other AT&T services, meaning you can reduce the price to around $60 to $70 each month if you also have a cell plan or DirectTV. If you do not want to go all in with AT&T, the internet only plans may not seem worth it.
In terms of performance, CenturyLink lags behind many other providers. To get above 100 Mbps, you must pay for the most expensive package, which is $65 a month. However, the lower package plans come with a price for life guarantee, meaning CenturyLink will not ever change the price. These plans currently go for $49 and offer up to 100 Mbps download speeds. The plans are also no contract, even for the price for life guarantee. If you only have one or two users or your household only sparingly uses the internet, the slower speeds will not be a problem.
RCN has some of the most affordable prices available, with the basic package only costing $19.99, although you only get 25 Mbps to download speeds. There are additional packages available which greatly increase the download speed for a small price boost. The costs also vary considerably depending on where you live. RCN is also one of the smaller providers, so it is mostly limited to east coast locations as of writing.